First of all, let me say that Laurie R. King is one of my favorite authors. She has two different mystery series (Mary Russell, Kate Martinelli) which are quite popular and very accessible. But she writes these other books which sometimes deal with harder topics. One of these is the book _A Darker Place_ is based on a professor helping the FBI by going undercover into a religious sect. And then there's Folly.
Folly is the story of a woman recovering from a mental breakdown. While institutionalized for her attempted suicide, she found a book about a man rebuilding himself by building a house. She decides to follow this path and rebuild an old house on a private island in the San Juan Islands. While hospitalized, she plans her project out and is able to convince/fool medical people/family that she's ready to do this. She arrives on the island Folly in the early spring and plans on getting the house done before winter. There's no electricity, no water system, no way off of the island. On the positive side, she makes arrangement for a local man to bring her groceries/supplies once a week and the has the finances to help.
What's important to remember is that when she arrives on the island, she's extremely mentally fragile. She probably makes her life harder by going off of her meds which means that she's coping with panic attacks; guilt about how she raised her first daughter; and extreme grief for the loss of her husband and second daughter.
In the process of rebuilding the house she rebuilds herself.
This makes the book sound depressing -- and it isn't. Because of the inner narration, you're well aware of the intensity of her panic attacks and grief. With time, you see the woman grow in a strong, capable woman.
I don't want to spoil the story by going into further details but I found this one of the best recent works of fiction I've read in years.
This is the newest in the MacKenzie & McBride series. In this one, the heroine (Bertie) is a Cockney pickpocket who ends up as the nanny for Sinclair McBride's two rowdy children. Angela Dawe does her usual excellent job with the narration. The quality of the writing and narration was to be expected (& why I preordered the book).
The warning? Don't start listening to this book at night. I was up almost all night listening to it.
Stephanie Laurens is one of my favorite authors and I was really looking forward to this story. In one of her newsletters, she had a link for the first chapter of this book and it was excellent. I preordered this book and grumbled about the delay.
I know that Ms. Laurens has been trying different narrators. I wouldn't use Napoleon Ryan again. I'm probably reacting a bit more than normal as I recently had the opportunit to listen to the first book in the series (Where the Heart Leads) which was narrated by Simon Prebble (sadly not offered by Audible). Going from Simon Prebble to Napoleon Ryan left me decidedly grumpy. The voice Napoleon Ryan uses for the Barnaby Adair character reminds me of a bad school performance of what a British lord should sound like; very plummy and affected. This is another narrator who treats every comma as a requirement for an overly lengthy pause and adds additional pauses apparently randomly in sentences. Grump.
So what's the good news? It's a mystery with characters you know and a bit of romance. And, best of all, it's written by Stephanie Laurenss and is a good read. It was nice to meet the character Montague as she visualized. Overall I'm giving it four stars -- but that's because I'm pathetically happy to get any new book by Ms. Laurens.
Anne Stuart is such a wonderful writer. Like Stephanie Laurens, she writes characters that are three dimensional and have more than a bit of attitude. I'm a bit ambivalent about the earlier series Ice but really enjoyed the House of Rohan.
I was delighted when I saw that there would be a new series: "Scandal at the House of Russell". Basically three daughters are trying to find the person behind their father's death and public ruin. The first book in the series, Never Kiss a Rake, was excellent and I'm happy to say that the second in the series is too.
The Scandal series is a bit racier than the Rohan series but it's nicely balanced with some humor and really fine writing. As with the first book in the series, the male lead is nuanced -- not a completely nice guy but he comes around to the right behavior. The female progatonist, like her sister in the early book, takes a position in service for the person she's investigating. She has issues with her position as a maid -- working long days, backbreaking labor, and having to put up with difficult people is far outside her previous experience as a daughter of a rich man.
I enjoyed both books in the series and look forward to the third. The books should be read in order as there are themes that run across the series.
I would also like to highly recommend Xe Sands for the excellent job she's done on this series. I think of all of the female narrators, she consistently does an excellent job. With many female narrators, I find their male voices lacking. Xe Sands is able to comfortably carry different accents (Irish, ...) but also can convey a gravely nature to a male voice. I admit to a bias for books read by Jim Frangione and Simon Prebble -- but I am delighted when I see that Xe Sands will be providing the narration for a book.
Is this my all-time favorite series? No -- but it's definitely toward the top of the list.
And I'm _really_ looking forward to more books by Anne Stuart.
...probably one of the worst lead-ins for a book I've read. The main character, Thorn, spends ~15 minutes in the mentioned club.)
What she does do in this book is go from a vengence-driven woman w/a poor self image to a woman who's no longer letting others define her role. Yes, she's still after the senior Whitney and there's certainly a lot of fairly explicit sex -- but it's good to have consistency in your life.
Some of the reviewers have dismissively commented on Thorn's submissive behavior. Would that be her submissive behavior as she kills various bad people and/or helps defend the other women & children while the men are off on a mission? Tradiitonal Japanese culture has a demonstrated history of the women acting submissive. The reality is that those same women controlled the purse strings, took major roles in politics, and yes, were recognized samurai warriors. While she often portrays herself as a bodyguard to one of her brothers, she's actually the senior person running a major corporation.
The book does not settle a few pesky issues like how she's going to handle a partner who's on active duty with the US government while her corporation is based in Japan. Or how she's going to juggle work and the possiblity of children. Having her partner wave his hands and say it can all be worked out sounds like a guy.
I thought it was interesting to have the Thorn character survive her abuse by the senior Whitney due to the assimilation into the samurai culture; the structure and training gave her the skills she needed to survive a horrific childhood. I also thought it was interesting for her to finally understand that she didn't have to accept her beloved adopted father's image of her life but accept that she could have a loving relationship with a physical side. And even lots of a physical side.
Actually, there were several areas in the book that were either badly written or edited. I would have thought the part where Thorn and Flame save the women & children while the men are offsite should have been greatly expanded. Thorn was pleased to reconnect with other girls from her childhood; that could have been covered more. I also would have liked to had an inkling of what the senior Whitney's reaction was to finding out that so many of his current efforts towards world domination were thwarted by a young girl he had literally thrown away. So we come back to my complaint about whomever wrote the blurb that Audible's listing with the book.
Feehan's books are a bit formularic -- but they still work. This was not the best of her books -- but it certainly wasn't the worst. I'd recommend going back and listening to the whole series again for those of you who've been away from it for awhile.
So this was the third book of Christine Warren's I've enjoyed.
The premise is one that's becoming almost formulaic: contemporary woman who's attracted to but has issues w/a hunky vampire/were/whatever. This book was fun because the woman is 'hosting' a fiend who's not just the sexist jerk he seems to be. Well, at least not all the time. The hero is a demon (as opposed to a fiend) and does his best to deny the relationship with the woman because he's too old/serious/whatever for her. .
There's more than enough sexy scenes to encourage you to not leave this where your younger listeners may listen to it -- but what makes the book unusual was the bickering/banter between the characters. Rather like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plub wandering into a Laurell K. Hamilton book.
There's humor in all three of these books -- but it was a definite addition to this book. An apprecicated addition.
Like all of the other reviewers, I enjoyed this series.
My only comment about this book is that it is very dependent upon the earlier books. I think that while Shadowfever did a great job of pulling it all together, it would be more than a bit confusing as a standalone work.
The Highlander series (also very enjoyable) works better as separate works. This is a series that you really need to start with the first book.
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