I really enjoyed the book when I read it, but the narrator gives every male character a harsh whispery tone that really turned me off. Ugh.
Excellent narration by Jennifer James Bradshaw. She differentiated the voices, and sounded not "sexy" (as someone said) but mellifluous, with a smoothly modulated voice.
As for the story itself, please excuse any misspelling of names, since I listened only. I liked the developing relationship between the healer Tristan (a sylvan, a green magic user) and the empath Riella (escaped slave turned horse whisperer and spy). That was nicely handled, even though Tris pulled a fast one, and should have had to grovel more.
However, the plot is weak. The final resolution didn't hold together well, because of a sudden character shift. I couldn't see "the prophet" as anything but a slave trader and rapist. His link with "the night god" didn't make sense, since this god was known for providing refuge for the weak, by covering them in darkness, hiding them (not raping or enslaving). Thus, the prophet's characterization went wonky, when Briggs tried to re-draw him as benign, just because he helped... Never mind. No spoilers here. Also, the whole cats plot thread went nowhere, really. I expected more of that.
This is part of a series, but it can be read as a stand alone, no problem. Overlapping characters are the spymaster (Wren) and the aeMagi.
Contents include rape, murder, and torture.
Ignore the title. No dragons, except in a game and a memory.
I liked this one, but didn't feel thoroughly engrossed. Didn't bond deeply to the characters, but I liked them quite well, and bonding may occur in the sequel. My favorite characters are the wild cat (a ralynx?) and the young empathic "sensitive" Cammon. (Spelling may be off.)
The fantasy elements are somewhat interesting. The plot to overthrow the king made sense, and I was intrigued about the old queen's sudden death followed by the king's hasty new marriage. Intrigued by the princess, never seen.
The romance was okay, but a bit uninspired. The dialogue is decent. Some good fight scenes. Some cool fire-Mage magic.
No swearing. No sex. Nothing too violently gruesome. A clean family-safe fantasy.
Fabulous narration. Top notch! As for the story, this is book two of two, a short fantasy series with wizards, ghosts, vampirism, trolls, mistwraithes, wolf-shifters, elemental gods, specially gifted "Travelers" and a little romance. I really bonded with the characters, first introduced in the prequel, Raven's Shadow. They became real to me across these two books. I want to see more of Seraph, Tier, Jes, Hennea, Lehr, Rinnie, Emperor Phoran the 26/27th, and his two loyal guards. I even loved the big black dog and the old war horse.
Suspenseful, heartwarming, engrossing, and fairly novel. Some grim scenes. Some black magic. Some bardic storytelling, song, and campfire camaraderie, to balance the darker bits. A villain not immediately obvious to me. Great scenes of fierce marital love even after 20 years. Authentic and well-sketched kids (ages about 10, 18, 20) play key roles in both books. Loved watching this family fight shadows together! Loved seeing the kids come into their own. Young Rennie learns to control winds and weather. Lehr learns to hunt, track, and open locks. And Jes learns to integrate his two opposite personas: empath and warrior. Kudos to Briggs for these two books.
My only gripe is that sometimes the author goes on too long, trying to explain how her magic works, what the "orders" are, who the gods are, and how to bind -- and free -- a person's spirit-entwined order (gift).
A lovely ending to this duology, but I wish it wouldn't end yet. How about another, dear author? Maybe Lehr could get a story. Or Rinnie.
Fabulous narration. Top notch! As for the story, this is book one of two, a short fantasy series with wizards, elemental gods, specially gifted "Travelers" and some romance. I really bonded with the characters introduced in this book. They became real to me across the two books. Wish Briggs would write another book, making a trilogy of it. I want to see more of Seraph, Tier, Jes, Hennea, Lehr, Rinnie, Emperor Phoran the 26/27th, and his two loyal guards. I even loved the big black dog and the old war horse.
Heartwarming, engrossing, and fairly novel. Some grim scenes. Some black magic. Some bardic storytelling, song, and campfire camaraderie, to balance the darker bits.
My only gripe is that sometimes the author goes on too long, trying to explain how her magic works, what the "orders" are, who the gods are, etc. But that happens more in book 2 than in this book.
The narrator is probably fine for most listeners, based on the reviews and ratings. For me, her voice modulation was a bit shrill. After 30 minutes, it began to grate a bit. Also, I didn't much care for her vocal characterization of the hero, Sam.
The story itself was better when I read it, compared to audio. I love the beginning chapters, where Sam and Jane get to know each other. Great car wash scene! Some funny one-liners. Decent dialogue.
Some parts of the book are skip-worthy, so when reading, I just skim past the sections involving the other three women (Marci, Lena, and TJ) and their love life. I grow impatient with the pages (and audio minutes) spent on this. Instead, I focus on the main characters, Sam and Jane. I also flip past the pages depicting the bloody murder. Repeated explicit sex gets boring, so fast forward there, too.
So, I'd give the book almost 4 stars (because I skim past the sections I don't care for). In audio format, it's hard to skim over unwanted sections.
One of Linda Howard's weakest books. Narrator Susan Ericksen is very good, but the story turned me off. Detective Cahill really let me down. Some hero. Simply not enough trust, dialogue, or relationship development. I didn't laugh or even smile. Too much raunchy sex. Repeated mention of blood and splattered brain matter. Lest we forget?
But my biggest problem?? I could NOT believe Sarah had sex with Cahill after his big betrayal. What a crock! He needed to work hard to win her trust again. But nope. She's easy.
The epilogue was a waste. Mostly, it was Cahill mentally rehashing the case, just as if we didn't already know -- all along -- what Dunsmuir did, and what a psycho he was. Then, after Dumbo Detective mentally replays the entire case, the book ends with more sexy bondage and a declaration of love. I couldn't buy it.
Howard's writing is weak in this book. Repetitive, plus she focused on trivial details too much. Dump redundancy and trivia. Replace with dialogue and action.
Bottom line? Ick. But I do like some books by Linda Howard.
Excellent narration. Top of the trees! Hats off to Anna Fields. Engrossing story with more finely crafted characters than generally seen in the romance genre. The characterization of Phoebe and Dan is superb. They held my interest despite the sometimes predictable storyline and the totally transparent villains.
Phillips portrays Phoebe as a blond bimbo, a reincarnation of Marylyn Monroe, but that's only on the surface. Inside, she's a wounded soul, vamping it up big time to cloak her soft heart, childhood scars, and sexual inhibitions. To survive, she learned to hide her keen intelligence and wise compassion. A hugely sympathetic and likeable character, Phoebe won me over. Loved her shrewd bimbo-ish business dealings, and her perceptive insight regarding Ron and Keen, especially. That business meeting with Keen was hilarious! Loved every scene with Phoebe and Dan. Great couple!
Phillips portrays Coach Dan Calebow as a reformed bad boy looking for a good woman to raise his babies. He's intensely attracted to Phoebe but cannot see her singing lullabies, baking cookies, or changing diapers, so he resists as best he can. He is highly reminiscent of Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, with Phoebe likened several times to Newman's sexpot Elizabeth Taylor (several references to Pulitzer-winning writer, Tennesee Williams). Like Phoebe, Dan has his childhood scars, too, from abusive partents in backwoods Alabama. His gradual realization of where his heart lies felt totally credible. His characterization as a hard-driving man's man is solid. The author also illustrates his soft spot for kids (and a youthful, unhappy Molly, age 15).
Contents: Several explicit sex scenes, swearing, religious profanity, some violence, and references to rape.
Ps. The sequel, Heaven Texas, is my favorite in this series, but I like the entire set of books.
"Our thoughts shape our world" pretty much sums up this book. The Secret Garden reminded me strongly of Heidi, The Little Princess, and -- to some extent -- Anne of Green Gables. It's an uplifting children's classic, set in Yorkshire, 1910. Good character development, inspirational and motivational messages, credible kid dialogue, and a few mysteries. Granted, the author pushes the power of positive thinking, fresh air, exercise, and Mother Nature a lot, but no harm done. At least she avoids pious judgmentalism. Plus, I adored Dickon, the young animal whisperer.
Good performance by Victoria McGee. She made it easy to differentiate between characters, and her voice is pleasant.
Some parts got repetitive and slow, but not too bad, and being a word nerd, I enjoyed the strong Yorkshire accent and the archaic vocabulary, including "wick" (alive), etc. This book inspired me to work in my garden and to nurture my soul.
My only strong quibble is with Archibald Craven. His happy ending was too pat, too sudden, and -- well -- undeserved. Out of self-pity at the death of his beloved wife, for ten years he abandoned his poor little infant son. Collin knew fear, loneliness, and dreadful misery. Excerpt:
"He was a man who for ten years had kept his mind full of dark and heartbroken thinking. He had not been courageous. He had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of the dark ones. He had wandered by blue lakes, and thought them. He had lain on mountainsides with sheets of deep blue gentians blooming all around him, and thought them. A terrible sorrow had fallen upon him...and he had let his soul fill itself with blackness and had refused obstinately to allow any rift of light to pierce through. He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties."
I needed to see Archie work for it a little.
A historical romantic thriller with psycho murder scenes. I have read this book in the past, and enjoyed it because I could skim the slower parts. Now, I have listened to the audio, narrated by Heather Wilds. She did a fine job most of the time, giving the princess a pleasant Germanic accent, which seemed suitable. Her voice is easy on the ears, not grating. Her portrayal of Colin was also good. She didn't try to force her voice to sound deep and gruff, like a man's, which often grates on my ears. However, she showed little or no emotion when portraying the love scenes, and her portrayal of the butler, Flannaghan, was a bit disappointing.
The story itself is not my favorite historical by Garwood, but it's decent. The pacing is a bit slow and the plot a bit weak. Some parts are great, though.
I liked Colin's devoted butler, Flannaghan, who fell over himself for "his" princess, Alesandra. I liked Alesandra's cleverness, surreptitiously handling Colin's ledgers and finding a way to ease his wounded leg. Colin is often grouchy, but I liked him, too. He made me laugh a little (but I didn't laugh during this book as much as during some of Garwood's other historicals).
I could not buy the reasons given for Alesandra's decision to move in with a bachelor. Nope. Would never happen, lady's maid or no maid.
The abduction plot thread with the general who wanted to marry the throne was predictable and somewhat inconsistent. Plus, some threads were left unfinished.
I did not care for the scenes with the psychotic lady-killer, but this is typical of Garwood, to include grisly murder along with the seething thoughts of the sociopath. Apparently, she likes to write psychos into her stories, or maybe she depends on this trope to allow the hero to rescue, and to build tension.
It was good to see characters from the prequels. The scenes with Colin's brother Caine were entertaing -- the scenes when he called the princess "the plague" and when he watched Colin find something wrong with every potential husband.
Read it years ago but couldn't remember it well. Just now listened to audio, narrated by Nicholas Boulton. Solid 5 stars for his near-perfect perfromance, but only 3 stars for the story itself, mainly because I didn't like the heroine.
Laura Kinsale is a superb romance writer, but this story arc was frustrating. Frustrating! The downers went on far too long. Leigh was frequently unlikable. She was cruel for about 80% of the book. I wanted to slap her. She was also TSTL, pulling a really dumb stunt that almost got everyone killed.
Then there is our hero, a Robin Hood-style highwayman who goes by various names, including ST Maitland and The Prince of Midnight. He is a fascinating character, coping admirably with hearing loss, fugitive status, and vertigo. When in top form, he's sexy, good humored, dashing, a swashbuckling swordsman, and a brilliant horse trainer.
However, I felt he let Leigh get away with too much spite. Why did he love her?? But he did, and almost from the start, when she hunted him down at his crumbling castle in France, asking him to teach her swordplay, to avenge her dead family. He agrees, saves her life a few times, feeds and clothes her...and she treats him like that?? I wanted him to abandon her. Ugh. Her cruelty during his bath and in the horse-training corral stick in my mind, to name a few ugly scenes.
Enjoyed the animals: Nemo the wolf and Mistrial the amazing gray horse. Loved the role Mistrial played, when confronting Reverend Jamie Chilton, the cult leader. Lol. Chuckled a few times in those scenes.
Felt the cult plot was extreme, only because it occurred within a community where educated and resistant people lived, including an Earl and his Countess, a squire, etc. To my admittedly thin knowledge, cults are typically formed outside an established community. Cult members leave their community behind. (By the way, the religious control aspect of the story reminded me of Maddie's dilemma as a Quaker in Flowers from the Storm.)
Loved the epilogue. Sweet and sexy, and thankfully fairly long. It's a horse riding scene.
My favorite books by this author are Flowers from the Storm and Midsummer Moon. I plan to listen to the other Kinsale novels Nick Boulton has narrated.
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