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Lori A.

New York, NY
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  • Ruthless

  • House of Rohan Series, Book 1
  • By: Anne Stuart
  • Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
  • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 904
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 710
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 720

Few outsiders will ever witness the dark misdeeds of the Heavenly Host. And among this secret society, where exiled Georgian aristocrats gather to indulge their carnal desires, fewer still can match the insatiable appetite of their chief provocateur, the mysterious Viscount Rohan. Pursuit of physical pleasure is both his preferred pastime and his most pressing urge, until he encounters the fascination of a woman who won't be swayed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved It!

  • By Judy on 03-07-11

Not your typical historical romance!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-15-14


A dark hero meets a sharp-tongued leading lady in this page turning story of a most unusual romance. If you’re looking for a light and fun historical you won’t find it here, don’t let the cover fool you, RUTHLESS is not for the tame reader who prefers a sweet romantic courting.

Known to many as the King of Hell, Viscount Francis Rohan leads a life of decadent indulgence and debauchery as leader of the Heavenly Host, an exclusive group of individuals who share his carnal appetites. When the less than shy Elinor Harriman storms into one of Rohan’s infamous parties looking for her mother, he’s instantly captivated by her bold and feisty personality. To Rohan Elinor presents an unexpected and challenging conquest, one that he gladly welcomes.

This is my first audiobook with Susan Ericksen as a narrator but it definitely won’t be my last. Her transition between accents is flawless and the male characters are believable. Ericksen’s narration really brings the story to life with her inflections and tone, you’re quickly transported back in time with Elinor and Rohan! Her depiction of Rohan is stellar, his arrogance and charm is is perfectly conveyed and Elinor’s quick wit is very entertaining. I’d venture to say listening made this book a better read.

While most readers will think Francis Rohan is not worthy of the hero title I found him enigmatic, intriguing and sexy…don’t judge me! Rohan is confident and mysterious, with a touch of darkness that makes him both dangerous and alluring. He’s said to be very experienced in the game of seduction, but I like that Anne Stuart leaves most of Rohan’s past sexual escapades to our imagination. Rohan might be an aristocrat but he is no gentleman, he lives life on his own terms and doesn’t apologize for it. I’ll admit he’s not swoon-worthy, I’d probably even say he’s detestable at times, but I couldn’t get enough of the King of Hell. I really applaud Anne Stuart for taking a chance and giving us somewhat of an anti-hero in Rohan that inspires empathy.

Elinor Harriman is not the standard leading lady you find in historicals. She’s an odd beauty with an opinionated personality who’s had a tumultuous upbringing with a not so loving mother, but is still a strong woman. I get her devotion to her younger sister, but I didn’t have much sympathy for her bitch of a mother who took advantage of her. She reminds me of Elizabeth Bennett, in the way that she compares herself to her sister’s beauty and finds herself lacking, it didn’t help that her sister’s name is also Lydia! She constantly refers to her nose as her worst feature, calling it the Harriman nose (inherited by her father) which got old after a while, but I guess every girl is her worst critic. Elinor’s loyalty is to her family for which she’s sacrificed her own happiness and the possibility of a future, her selflessness is admirable. She’s a complex character who struggles with doing the right thing or giving into temptation. I love that Elinor doesn’t let her tortured past define her and realizes that there’s nothing wrong with putting herself first for once.

Aside from the main characters, we’re also introduced to Rohan’s best friend and right hand man, Charles Reading. He’s more of a mystery than Rohan and I was intrigued by his character and the possible romance between him and Elinor’s younger sister Lydia. Their moments together were brief but sweet and I found myself liking their chemistry a little more than our main couple. I hope Anne Stuart gives us more of Charles and Lydia soon!

The chemistry between Rohan and Elinor starts off as flirty banter before anything gets serious between them. Rohan is instantly drawn to Elinor’s sharp tongue and while his intentions are to bed her, he soon realizes that his charms won’t work so easily on her. It was great to see Elinor play hard to get and Rohan’s frustration at the start of their relationship. Their relationship isn’t insta-love, coming together after a tragedy View Spoiler » which allows them to spend time together under the same roof and really get to know one another. My only tiff with this romance is that I expected more smexy times with this couple, especially with Rohan’s reputation. We go from one steamy scene in a stagecoach to nothing for a very long time. If I recall there were two sex scenes towards the end of the story but nothing memorable to rave about. All in all I did enjoy them as a couple. It’s not your typical feel good romance, but these two characters compliment each other perfectly.

If you’re like me and love to step out of the box with romance novels, this book is for you. RUTHLESS is a slow paced, dark romance with a little mystery that keeps you engaged from beginning to end. The ending felt a bit rushed for my tastes, but I was glad that Rohan and Elinor got their HEA after everything they’ve been through. Anne Stuart delivers a refreshing take on a “cookie-cutter” genre with her Byronic heroes and strong female protagonists in the House of Rohan series. I’ve found a new series and author to covet!

  • Storm Front

  • The Dresden Files, Book 1
  • By: Jim Butcher
  • Narrated by: James Marsters
  • Length: 8 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,398
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29,685
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29,647

A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt. Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse. Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters to vampires....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent listen and a great start to the series

  • By Donna on 07-13-09

Fantastic intro to Harry Dresden’s magical world!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-21-14

James Marsters really brings Harry Dresden’s character to life with his calm and collected narration. He has a smooth voice and makes flawless distinctions with each character in the story. James’ narration can sometimes get a little breathy, but I find that it fits the mood of the scene and wasn’t turned off about it enough to stop reading. James really does a marvelous job of making you think you’re sitting in a room with Harry while he’s telling you an exciting story!

The magical world Jim Butcher has created is both dark and fascinating. The rules and politics in the “wizarding” world, known as the White Council, are a bit complex and I look forward to learning more about them as the series progresses. Jim Butcher’s a fantastic storyteller who keeps you on the edge of your seat with multi-faceted characters, an engaging supernatural world and some humor.

Harry is an intriguing character, he always has the best intentions but is pretty moody and brooding wizard. Would I consider him an alpha? probably not my kind of alpha, but he definitely is a strong character. Harry’s a bit nerdy, has almost no lucky with women, isn’t rich but still has plenty of charm and a great sense of humor. He believes in doing the right thing at any cost, which usually lands him in the middle of some dangerous situation…I would say he’s pretty close to being the male version of Rachel Morgan from the Hollows series. I really appreciate his vulnerability, although he is a wizard he’s not immortal, making him a more relatable hero in my eyes. He hasn’t won me over completely just yet, but it’s still early!

Storm Front is a solid character driven story with a noir feel that instantly grabs your attention. Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden (how cool is that name?) has captured my attention with his snark, angst and big heart. Jim Butcher has created a supernatural world with wizards, vampires, fairies and some unique villains that I can’t wait to revisit!

  • Spider's Bite

  • Elemental Assassin, Book 1
  • By: Jennifer Estep
  • Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
  • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,196
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3,460
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,469

They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • How I got to loathe the story

  • By Brian Rygaard Jensen on 06-06-13

Gin Blanco is a bad ass heroine!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-22-13

Damn this chick is bad ass! She’s all kinds of dangerous with sass, don’t mess with Gin she’ll stab you, literally.

Lauren Fortgang’s narration is exceptional. She immediately pulls you into the story and makes each character, male and female, shine with her interpretation and knack for southern accents! I can honestly say I think I’ve been spoiled by the awesome team of Lauren Fortgang and Jennifer Estep. I never thought I’d enjoy listening to a book this much!

Spider’s Bite introduces us to a paranormal world of elementals, vampires, dwarfs and magic. Born an elemental (beings who have the ability to manipulate the elements of air, fire, stone or ice), Gin Blanco spends her days as a part-time cook at the Pork Pit and moonlights as the infamous assassin known as the Spider. When her latest assignment ends in betrayal and the death of her mentor and handler Fletcher, Gin vows to seek revenge by finding the elemental responsible, at any cost. To get to the bottom of things Gin enlists the help of Fletcher’s son Finn, but soon finds an unlikely ally in the form of Detective Donovan Caine. Although her attraction to the handsome and brooding detective is undeniable, Gin knows getting involved with the sexy cop could have disastrous consequences for the both of them but she’s not one to play by the rules, especially when it comes to Caine.

Gin instantly became one of my top five urban fantasy heroines while reading SPIDER'S BITE. She’s smart, sassy and totally bad ass. I love her determination and non apologetic attitude, what you see is what you get with this feisty heroine and I wouldn’t want it any other way! Gin make come off as a heartless mercenary, but when it comes to family there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to protect her own. She’s far from your perfect heroine I’d definitely put her in the tortured heroine category but there are many facets to her character I can’t wait to see.

SPIDER'S BITE is filled with some fabulous supporting characters. Finnegan Lane, Gin’s “adoptive brother” is a smart mouth and super sexy ladies man with plenty of charm and connections, I love the familiar banter between them. Gin’s friends and clean up crew, dwarven sisters Jojo and Sophia Devereaux add a touch of humor to the story.

And last but not least we have Gin’s love interest, Dectective Donovan Caine. I loved the mystery surrounding Donovan when we first meet him. He’s a little dark, tortured and brooding but I knew if anyone could break him it would be Gin. There is some scorching sexual tension between Gin and the detective that gets stronger as the story develops. I applaud Ms. Estep for turning the tables when it comes to gender roles in this story…Gin is the “bad girl” and Donovan is the good cop which is unconventional and works perfectly. When these two finally get together sparks fly and you see a softer side to their personalities. I see a long and difficult road ahead for these two, but I do have high hopes.

I’ve stepped into Gin Blanco’s fascinating supernatural world and there’s no going back. With stellar characters and a fast paced, action packed plot SPIDER'S BITE is sure to be a fan favorite among UF readers. I can go on ranting and raving about how much I enjoyed this book but I’ll let you decide for yourself. I’ve found a new feisty heroine I can’t wait to read more about…thank you Ms. Estep!