Subscribe via RSS Feed Pinterest

Tag: "Romance"

Review: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

[ 2 ] March 30, 2015

never fade book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

Never Fade is the second book in the Darkest Minds series, and the tone of the novel is dramatically different than that of its predecessor. Whereas in the first book the reader gets to see the main character, Ruby, as a somewhat fragile, confused ex-prisoner, we now get to see her as a soldier working towards the cause of saving other young people like herself.

The book picks up six months after the events of The Darkest Minds. Ruby has joined and very reluctantly risen up the ranks to become a respected leader in the Children’s League. She is often called upon to use her psi abilities to read the minds of those who know important information about what the League is trying to accomplish. All this has come at quite a price to Ruby: the friends she met and became close to when she first left her camp, Chubs, Zu, and Liam, no longer have any connection to her.

Ruby’s world is fast paced and though a lot of thrilling things happen to her, I didn’t find myself as engaged in her story as I did in the first installment of this series. I believe this is mostly because several new characters are introduced rather quickly in the first half of the story, and Ruby is not one to open herself up to new people (or anybody really). Therefore, you don’t see her making connections or feeling much. After only six months of her new work, she is jaded.

The second half of the story really ramps up, as the friends we got to know and love from Ruby’s past come back into her life. These are the people Ruby cares about, and the tone of the book and Ruby’s voice changes completely after they are reintroduced.

Though I’d classify this story as a dystopian political thriller, there are small doses of romance scattered in as well. The small amount that the book does have is very engaging and will make your heart beat faster. The author is talented at writing these small love scenes, and I hope to see more of them in the next novel of the series.

The end of the book moved very quickly, and didn’t really wrap up what at times were quite confusing political storylines for me. I can tell the author is laying the groundwork to have this all finished in the final novel, but it made for puzzling reading sometimes.

I am definitely ready to see how Ruby’s tale will end, because I love her as a main character and I have enjoyed watching her develop. I know not every tale can have a happy ending, but I am hoping for a satisfying one.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Disney-Hyperion. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Pin It

Review: Mistress Firebrand by Donna Thorland

[ 3 ] March 11, 2015

mistress firebrand book coverReviewed by A.D. Cole

I’m officially a Donna Thorland fan girl. After reading the first two books in the Renegades of the American Revolution series, I had pretty high expectations for Mistress Firebrand, and it did not disappoint. Jennifer Leighton is an ambitious playwright about to sell her soul for the chance at fame in London. Severin Devere is societal outcast turned British assassin, whose task it is to assist Jennifer by delivering her to her would-be patron, General Burgoyne. But the price for Burgoyne’s patronage proves too high, and Severin is forced to help Jennifer escape.

The events that follow thrust the two characters into the heart of the dangerous intrigue that lies beneath the surface of the war. And when Jennifer and Severin fall in love, they realize just how much they’re willing to sacrifice to be together. Now they must battle the tides of politics and war in order to survive and find their way back into each other’s arms.

What I love most about Donna Thorland’s romances is that she recognizes the significance of the meeting of two like minds. Her characters always share more than a mutual attraction. They share wit and intelligence and, above all, mutual respect. In this aspect, I like Severin and Jennifer the most of all of her characters so far. Severin is first attracted to Jennifer’s realness, her intelligence, and the love of theater that he shares. She captures his respect before his heart, and that’s what makes the romance so compelling to me.

For anyone not a fan of romance, Mistress Firebrand is just as much a historical adventure novel. There is action and danger at every turn. Historical figures and events are woven seamlessly into the story. In fact, I’m always just as intrigued by the setting as I am by the story. I knew nothing of the Simsbury Copper Mine until reading this novel, and it brought to life the brutality of war during this time period. Thorland delivers a vivid backdrop including not only historical events and figures, but all elements of the culture, from clothing and food, to gender and sexual politics.

I highly recommend this, along with the first two books in the series, to anyone who loves romance, adventure, historical fiction, or all three. Each book is a standalone so that the series can be read out of order.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Pin It

Review: Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey

[ 3 ] March 10, 2015

butterfly book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Originally published in 1988, Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey (the pseudonym of Barbara Wood) is a riveting tale of sensuality and revenge. This hefty novel is the first in a trilogy, in modern times following Trudie, Jessica, and Linda, who are each members of a secretive club called Butterfly, where women can act out any sexual fantasy they desire…for a fee. The rest of the novel focuses on thirty years before and leading up to the present, detailing the tragic past of the woman who came from nothing and built an empire, all for the sake of revenge.

Although the book’s cover may present this as another erotic tale, Butterfly is much more complex than it seems at first glance. I became engrossed in the coming-of-age of Rachel Dwyer, a runaway teenager who is forced into prostitution, and her vendetta against Danny Mackay, the boy she loved who began his ascent to greatness by stripping her of everything.

I won’t say more than I already have about the plot and the central characters, because half of the fun of reading this book was not knowing much to begin with. The book also raises some interesting discussion prompts regarding prostitution, feminine sexuality, and power. As a society, we agree that paying for sex is wrong. Rachel’s forced submission to the desires of men was disgusting, yet I seemed to accept the reasons why Trudie, Jessica, and Linda joined Butterfly. Belonging to Butterfly wasn’t about having power over another individual, but finding love, strength, and healing, respectively.

The main events of Butterfly come full circle by the end of the novel, but there are still questions left unanswered about Rachel’s past that I hope are touched upon in the novels. It’s taking lots of willpower not to read the synopses of the next two books, but I want to be just as surprised with those as I was with Butterfly. I haven’t been able to stop recommending this book to my reader friends; this wasn’t my normal type of read, but I’m so glad I read it.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Turner Publishing Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Pin It

Blog Tour: Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery

[ 7 ] March 2, 2015

girls of mischief bay book coverPlease join bestselling romance author Susan Mallery as she tours the blogosphere with her new book, The Girls of Mischief Bay!

Reviewed by Vera Pereskokova

In the fictional town of Mischief Bay, California, three women in very different stages of their lives come together to commiserate and lean on each other through the thick and thin.

Nicole runs the local Pilates studio where she whips her clients into shape. Unfortunately, her own life is anything but in shape. When her husband announced that he left his lucrative job to sit at home and write a screenplay, Nicole did her best to be supportive. But with no sign of a screenplay and no help at home, Nicole is at her wit’s end trying to keep everything afloat.

With their kids grown and out on their own, Pam and her husband have settled into a comfortable – albeit boring – existence of quiet dinners at home and doting on Lulu, their health-challenged Chinese Crested dog. Despite their contentment, Pam knows that their marriage has lacked that spark for a long time and goes out of her way to reinvent their relationship.

A female CFO in a male dominated industry, Shannon is smart, beautiful and ambitious. Unfortunately, her success at work does not translate to her love life. She has always expected to get married and was even engaged twice, but never quite made it down the aisle. These days, most men are either too intimidated by Shannon’s success or too eager to take advantage of it. But when an online date turns out to be a pleasant surprise, Shannon is tempted to think that it might not be too late for her after all…

The Girls of Mischief Bay was my first experience with Susan Mallery’s writing and boy am I hooked! I’m always on the fence with women’s fiction because many books that fall into this category wind up being all fluff and no substance. Mallery, however, is in a league of her own—her writing flows effortlessly and her characters are smart, relatable and easy to root for. Female readers are likely to find many parallels between their own friendships and the bonds that unite Nicole, Pam and Shannon.

I’ve wanted to try Mallery’s books in the past but did not want to start in the middle/ end of a series. Luckily for me, Mischief Bay is the first book in a brand new series and I definitely look forward to future installments!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harlequin MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Pin It

Blog Tour: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

[ 40 ] February 25, 2015

pembrooke park book coverPlease welcome award winning historical romance author Julie Klassen who is touring the blogosphere with her new release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park

A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of all of Ms. Klassen’s eight books and other Jane Austen-themed items, is open to those who join the festivities. (click here for a list of tour stops)

Reviewed by Amanda Schafer

Shortly after their family discovers they made some very bad financial investments and are now nearly destitute, Abigail Foster and her father receive a visitor. This visitor is a lawyer sent by a client with a request for them to live at Pembrooke Park for no less than one year. They would be allowed to have a certain number of house staff but that would be it; all cleaning and renovating would be up to them and the staff. Abigail and her father agree but decide to leave her mother and sister with an aunt in order to prepare the estate for their arrival. While there, Abby discovers that there might be some sort of treasure within the house and she’s determined to find it. The local curate is a very handsome man who welcomes father and daughter to Pembrooke Park but also becomes very interested in Abby herself.

Abby begins receiving anonymous letters in the mail that contain pages from a long-ago-written journal detailing the life of a young girl, presumably the young Pembrooke daughter who is said to be dead. These letters warn Abby to not allow any person claiming to be a Pembrooke to enter the house. At all. However, when Miles Pembrooke shows up and asks to be allowed to see the manor, Abby and her father allow him to stay. He seems harmless and they don’t want to think badly of him. Over the course of many days, they discover a great deal about his father and uncle and what happened to them and their families. There’s so much mystery and confusion that no one really knows what happened…and no one is telling!

When the exact whereabouts of Clive Pembrooke are discovered, people involved finally feel at ease to share the truth of what really happened and where everyone really is. Abby finally learns the details about the “secret room” and finds out which man has truly claimed her heart.

Julie Klassen never fails to delight her readers! While The Secret of Pembrooke Park has a few confusing details, it all comes together as the book comes to a close. Beautiful descriptions and wonderful history are all woven into this tale of mystery, love, and intrigue. You won’t be sorry you read this novel…you’ll only be sorry when you have to put it down and get back to real life!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

blog tour bannerGrand Giveaway Contest 

Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada.

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bethany House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Pin It

Review: A Pinch of Ooh La La by Renee Swindle

[ 2 ] February 21, 2015

pinch of ooh la la book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

Step inside Abbey Ross’ bakery and you will find all manner of delicious confections and treats. Planning a wedding? Using her degree in art history, she can transform an ordinary cake into a true masterpiece. At nearly 40 years old, Abbey still hasn’t found that special someone for herself. In A Pinch of Ooh La La, Abbey’s best friend, Bendrix, has taken it upon himself to help her fix that. He wants her to agree to try online dating despite her resistance to the idea. When she finally agrees, she meets Samuel. He is a successful lawyer, attractive physically and very kind; it seems a match made in heaven. As it turns out, it’s a recipe for dysfunction!

Abbey and Samuel come from completely different backgrounds. Abbey’s father, a jazz musician, had 13 children with many wives and girlfriends. But, they all manage to get along and function in an oddly stable way. Samuel comes from a very conservative family complete with a lot of rules and expectations. Appearances and expectations are highly valued. Initially Abbey and Samuel are able to look past their differences to see all they share in common, but as the months fly by, they both realize their families’ ways are deeply ingrained in their own personal values. So, as they begin to fall in love, sparks fly as their worlds collide.

While the premise for this story was interesting, I found that it lacked any overall plot. It seemed to focus on several relationships in their various stages, but, there was no central driving conflict that needed to be resolved. Instead there is a lot of dialogue in various settings as different characters try to figure out their relationships. Strong characters would suddenly make unexpected changes in behavior. For example, Samuel is initially very conservative and portrayed as the perfect gentleman, but suddenly he is described as having all these sexual fetishes that push Abbey’s limits and are never hinted at earlier in the story. Overall, the story lacked cohesion and dissolved at the end with strings still hanging. It ends hinting at another romance but feels unfinished. For those that enjoy chick reads, this book may have something to offer, but I found it to have no substance.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Pin It
Page 15 of 94« First...10...1314151617...203040...Last »