I really enjoyed the mix of sex and magic in this historical romance that occurs during the Scotish witch burnings. Gregor, our hero, wants the lands stolen from his father, but the cad who did the stealing has a lot of clout. He figures the best way to get information from the brut is to send in a spy. He see's Jessie, the Harlot of Dundee, in a cat fight at the local pub, and gets a good look at what's on offer as the two women roll around on the floor. He likes what he sees and decides she's be the perfect bait to trap his enemy. Until she's caught using magic and ends up in the Toll Booth (Jail).
What happens next is good fun, but unfortunately, it's read in a way that would be more successful if it had been softened just a little in delivery. There are a lot of rolling "Rrrrrrrrs" as Helen Stern, who otherwise has a lovely voice, chews up the Scots accent and delivers dialogue that is a little too strong and menacing from the male lead. Even during the romantic scenes, Gregor, sounds like he's reprimanding Jesse (though she doesn't seem to mind it a bit).
While my ear never really got used to the hardness of the performance, it's a good listen anyway, and as I said, the sex and magic make it a lot of fun.
Be prepared for archaic sounding dirty talk -- it's odd at first, but ultimately adds to the atmosphere.
Lady Barbara is tall, red haired and buxom -- an amazon compared to her delicate, blonde, blue-eyed sister Helen. Convinced she is firmly nailed to the shelf, Barbara gives up hope of ever being married when she discovers that Lord Clibbington, a man whom she thought was courting her, was actually pursuing Helen. Hurt and a little jaded, Barbara has decided that no man will ever want her.
Enter the Marquess of Beningbrough, or Ben, a handsome heir to a dukedom, with deep seated issues of low self-esteem, and a big chip on his shoulder.
Ben and Barbara meet each other for the first time over the body of a dead footman. Initially hostile, they each have an interest in finding the culprit, and are soon forced to work together to unmask the killer. She finds him arrogant, while he thinks she's a shrew. They are both so damaged and thin skinned that communication is nearly impossible. The story really takes off when they begin to trust one another -- and their growing, mutual attraction.
It's important to note that the bickering back and forth between B & B is handled with a master's touch, as Everette deftly skirts the abyss of going overboard. She kept to the right side of witty and believable, and I found that very impressive. Too often, this kind of thing is laid on too thick, and can ruin an otherwise good book.
The plot is fast paced and filled with menace -- black mail, murder and murder attempts. It also has some sexy clinches in the drawing room, and a sweet, dawning romance that is very well done.
In particular, Ben's unusual -- for the times-- family drama was handled beautifully. Also Helen is an interesting character when her flaws are laid bare.
I would love it if this was the first in a series, as I'd enjoy watching Ben and Barbara solve more mysteries. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Nevertheless, this stand alone book held my attention throughout -- so much so, that I woke up early today and had to put my earbuds in and finish the book, before I even got out of bed! That's something that has NEVER happened to me before!
I enjoyed this one very much, and even though it's fairly obvious 2/3d's in, who the killer is, you won't mind. You'll be hanging onto your seat until the end, and that's pretty great for a HR!
This is my first Alyssa Everette novel, but I've since bought two more.
The reader, Lizzie Owensby, is a revelation, and she did an amazing job. I'll be looking for more books read by her.
Also, a shout out to Lady W for the great review. She's the reason I took a chance on this. Thanks Lady W!
Has Angela Dawe lost her mojo or am I just over her? Why does she insert 4 vowels when a word only calls for two? Why does every sentence tip up at the end, as though she is attempting to imitate a valley girl with a mid-western accent? And, please god, tell me why is she hired to read Highlander romances?
So many questions, so many books to ruin.
I thought it was great that they replaced Justine Eyre in series -- until I found out who they replaced her with.
Back to reading this series on my Kindle.
Spoilers galore, but you might want to read them anyway if you want to avoid wasting your time and money on this stinker. Just saying.
The book begins in a weird place. The h, Sophie, is hiding under her covers pretending to be sick because she's afraid to tell her new husband, Victor, that her sister and her husband plan to rob the jeweler where he works as a guard. Rather than getting out of bed and warning him about the impending crime, she wimps out because she's afraid he'll be mad -- because she's the one who made the fake jewels they would be planting in the safe. Huh. Yeah, I pretty much hated her from the get go.
After the robbery, Sophie is told that Victor took part in it. She already knows she can't trust her sister and brother-in-law, but of course, she believes them. They tell her Victor will be meeting them in Paris, but when Victor doesn't show up, she believes he's abandoned her. Naturally, Victor was innocent, and because his stupid wife didn't warn him, he took the blame for the robbery, believing she was in on it.
Tens years later, Sophie is hiding out in Scotland when Victor finally finds her again. He thinks she left him to rot in jail, and she still believes he ran off with his share of the booty.
What makes this a bore is that none of the characters is very likeable. Sophie is a gullible weakling who can't stand up to her sister and her husband. Victor is out for revenge. Even after they each finally explain what happened from their point of view, they still don't trust each other. Chapter after chapter they have these repetitive conversations about what happened, about the lies the sister and her husband told, about how each thought the other was at fault. Every time some new information comes to light, we have to hear them go on and on again and again about what happened and why that made them think they couldn't trust each other. And then they have to stop and explain it to the secondary characters. It's un-freaking-believably boring.
This is a melodramatic mess of repetitious scenes of digressions, lengthy and unnecessary explanations and expositions that NEVER SEEM TO END!!!!
By the 15th Chapter I started skipping from chapter to chapter and sampling, just to get it over with.
It didn't help that the characters were meant to be Dutch, which meant that Corrie James did much of the dialogue with this weird accent reminiscent of Ingrid Bergman. She made the MC's sound old and creepy, with each word enunciated like she had a mouth full of square marbles, which only made the sex scenes feel nasty. As a counterpoint to this, there are some campy characters like the goofy Baron and his sexually aggressive mother, that feel so out of place in this melodrama that they stick out like cartoons. Otherwise there is no humor or lightness at all.
I know I didn't love the first book, but only because it could have been great if only the author had addressed the unresolved plot points in that book. I had hoped they might be explained in this follow up, but they were not even mentioned.
This book was a tedious experience and I hated every minute of it. I could use it for toilet paper if only it wasn't an audiobook. Otherwise, I can't imagine a use for it.
Returning it for a refund.
This book is how I spent my Sunday afternoon, and I enjoyed it very much. I listened to it because I was in desperate need of a palate cleanser after attempting to listen to Sabrina Jefferies "When the Rogue Returns." (OMG. What a slow read. See my review to come.)
So I scrolled through my iPod and picked this book at random. So glad I did!
Witch Hunt is Book One in a 3 book bundle I got for free (or for .99) on Kindle. Happily, the bundle was also released for cheap on Audible. The author is SM Reine. This important because you can also find other books written by the same author under S M Reine, but you won't find this bundle unless you go to SM Reine. (Clearly this was a spelling error by Audible and should be fixed. Since their search engine sucks, I'm not holding my breath.)
Back to Witch Hunt:
Our hero is Cèsar Hawke, a witch and an investigator for the Office of Preternatural Affairs. After a night out partying with coworkers, Cèsar wakes up severely hung over, only to find the waitress he's been hitting on, dead in his bath tub, and the LAPD beating down the door. He has no idea what happened, but he's 100% sure he didn't kill her.
Well, 99% sure.
What follows is an awesome fast paced man hunt that drives him from a creepy cemetery, (where a necromancer is raising the dead), to the streets of Hell Town -- a scary part of LA hidden from humans where witches and demons live. There are magic spells, interesting relationships, excellent dialogue and great characters. There is also an intelligent plot. Ahhhh. I love those.
The mystery is a good one, and the ending isn't one I saw coming, (and I usually do). I'm looking forward to Book 2, Silver Bullet.
Witch Hunt is very entertaining in the vein of the Iron Druid, though with less whimsey. There isn't a romance, but it ends on a note that makes me think the next book might provide one. Lots of innuendo and flirting, and the incubi are truly creepy!
You could do a lot worse. I know I have.
This one is Highly Recommended!
(Jeffrey Kafir did an excellent job with male and female voices and kept the right tone throughout without forcing the sarcasm. He made this a great listen.)
This was a great book. The romance was fantastic, the love scenes beautiful, and the mystery juicy. And it was read by Kate Reading. What's not to love?
Elissande: A prisoner in her evil uncle Edmund Douglas' house all her life, she knows it's only a matter of time before he kills her aunt. She'll do anything to get them both away from him.
Lord Vere: He is a a secret agent for the crown with an interesting cover: Everyone who knows him, believes he's suffered a brain injury that turned him into an idiot.
How these two meet is awesome to behold, and I love the way the mystery played out. The HEA was very satisfying, too.
All in all, a great way to spend several hours of my time, and I'm becoming a big Sherry Thomas fan, too!
I've taken a stab at this one several times now. I love the premise. But David Stifel reads this like an English lecturer and any passion in the story is lost.
This was a definite improvement over the hot mess that was book 1, but it just didn't hold my interest. I think I started reading this in January, and I've probably read at least 8 other books since starting it. I'm only 1/3 of the way through, and I have no desire to pick it up again. That kind of says it all.
I'm going to assume that my first book of the series, Book 4, which I loved, was a fluke.
Unfortunately, I also bought 2 more after that, so hell -- I'll let you know.
Phil Gigante almost saved it. Almost.
I picked up a later book in this series and gave it a good review. I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd go back and start with the first book. I shouldn't have.
This isn't even a decent effort on the part of Moning, and I can't understand how it ever got published. The heroine time travels onto the lap of an evil man and everyone fails to notice that she isn't the guy's grown daughter -- everyone except him. He forces her to marry his enemy, by order of the king no less, and then threatens them both if she reveals the deception. Huh?
This was confusing and stupid. I got a deal or I'd return it.
Be aware that I'm breaking with my usual No Spoilers Rule, and revealing a bit of the plot. I'm doing it because I believe that some of the less than stellar reviews that this book has been given are unfair. The characters are not unlikeable, as some infer. They are emotionally complex, and at times sad and resentful. Just because this isn't a simple love story, doesn't mean it's not a good one.
Private Arrangements is about two very stubborn A type personalities, who meet and fall deeply in love when they're too young and inexperienced to handle the emotion. It doesn't help that they are hampered both by pride and insecurity.
Gigi has passion, brains and a sharp mind to match -- and she's incredibly rich. Used to getting what she wants, she's also accustomed to fending off fortune hunters. She's 19 years old and inexperienced.
Camden is a newly minted heir to a neighboring Dukedom, one that didn't come with any money. He's used to that. He's lived most of his life in other peoples houses because his aristocratic, but poor parents, couldn't afford a home of their own. Sweet and idealistic, he has always taken care of his family. He has a bit of a savior complex.
One day the idealistic boy and the cynical girl meet and fall in love, hard.
There's only one sticky wicket: another girl. Camden has, at least in his mind, given himself to a girl who has had as hard and unsettled a life as he has. Even though he doesn't love her, he intends to marry her, save her, and give her a home. Gigi has met the girl, and she knows if he marries her, he will be miserable. Falling hard for the first time in her life, Gigi can't let him go, and instead she does something awful to break them up. When Camden finds out what she did, he feels betrayed and manipulated, and it drives them apart for years.
Sherry Thomas is smart, and she's given us a very intriguing trail of bread crumbs to follow through the more difficult parts of the story. Each chapter illuminates events, moving from 1882, the year they meet and marry, to 1893, the year he comes back into her life. Point and counter-point, we see how they got into the mess they are in, and how it has made them who they are.
Camden's anger is a big pill, however, as he refuses to acknowledge his part in the tragedy, and by the end of Part 1, I wanted to stop reading because of him. The 4 star rating is because of how close I came to giving up. It all seemed such a waste. But I'd already invested 5 hours of my life in this story and I had to keep going. Fortunately, almost from the beginning of Part 2, the whole plot came together in a satisfying and lovely way. I almost want to give that 5th star back!
This is not an easy, or light read. This one will make you feel things, push some buttons, make you sad or angry. (I haven't seen protagonists like this since Scarlett and Rhett). However, the payoff at the end makes it more than worth the journey. In the end, it all makes sense, and what more can you ask for in a story like this?
I am amazed I'd never read anything by Sherry Thomas before, but after finishing this book, I bought two more read by Kate Reading.
Speaking of 'read by,' Virginia Leishman is incredible here. This is a very, very nuanced book, with emotions running rampant. In the hands of a more ham fisted reader, this could have been a hot mess. Ms. Leishman is a master craftswoman, and she plays the material like a violin. I will happily seek out more books read by her. She's a marvel.
Highly Recommended, at least for those who don't mind having to work a little for the HEA.
The good guys are complicated, the bad guys are power mad, and the world is as fleshed out as any I've read before. And Silver is still trying to find her way through this strange new life. and gain control over her powers -- even as her guardian demands her blind obedience. What's a girl to do?
Logan Cross is an assassin hired to kidnap Silver and take her to her mortal enemy. As a Chitah, Logan is a member of the most feared shifter clan. He has abilities that make him a frightening threat to Silver and her friends, since even powerful mages fear Chitah.
A stone cold killer with motivations that run deep, Logan does what he does for money, and his bone deep hatred for mages only add to his desire to do what he was hired to do.
Fortunately for Silver, Logan thinks before he acts, and he takes his time trying to figure out why he's been hired to take her, and why he feels so drawn to the little mage.
Silver never gives in to her fear. She goes toe to toe with the big killer, using her wit to stall for time as she tries to figure a way out of her current peril. Her courage only makes Logan all the more confused by his reaction.
Their's is a slow, sexy seduction rife with both uncertainty and animal magnetism. Watching their relationship develop forms the heart of this series for the next several books.
This is an astonishingly original love story that is well worth the wait. Will they, or won't they, and when?
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