Thursday, 28 February 2013

Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #5)

Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Smut-O-Meter: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


When Strangers In The Night

He lives in the shadows. As the mysterious masked avenger known as the Ghost of St. Giles, Godric St. John's only goal is to protect the innocent of London. Until the night he confronts a fearless young lady pointing a pistol at his head—and realizes she is his wife.

Become Lovers...

Lady Margaret Reading has vowed to kill the Ghost of St. Giles—the man who murdered her one true love. Returning to London, and to the man she hasn't seen since their wedding day, Margaret does not recognize the man behind the mask. Fierce, commanding, and dangerous, the notorious Ghost of St. Giles is everything she feared he would be—and so much more.

Desire Is The Ultimate Danger

When passion flares, these two intimate strangers can't keep from revealing more of themselves than they had ever planned. But when Margaret learns the truth—that the Ghost is her husband—the game is up and the players must the temptation that could destroy them both.


This is my third Elizabeth Hoyt, but my first from Maiden Lane. It was somewhat different for me, since the hero and heroine were already married when the story began. They had been married for 2 years but lived separately because it was a marriage of convenience that had been arranged by her brother, and neither of them had any interesting in having a real marriage. But when Margaret travels to London and stays with her husband for awhile they got to know each other better than they ever thought they would, or ever thought they would want to.

I really enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt's writing and her characters, as usual. She is likely my favourite author of historical romance so far, although I haven't read many. I really enjoyed the story involving the Ghost of St. Giles. These stories don't always have so much action. I am really interested to get the story I missed in the rest of the series. 
What really annoyed me was the way Margaret was always thinking of her former lover who had died. Three quarters of the way through the book she is clearly in love with Godric, but she is still being selfish and stupid, and begging him to put himself in danger for her sense of revenge. And he does it to make her happy, because he can admit to himself that he is in love with her. Of course she comes around once he does what she asked and she realizes how worried about him she was. Luckily he was okay and she came around. Better late than never. 

I am really excited to read Wicked Intentions now. I already had it on my to-read list, but hadnt gotten around to it. Now I will be making it a priority.

"This act would damn his very soul but for Megs it was worth it.For Meggie he would walk the fires of hell."

Monday, 18 February 2013

Geek Girl by Holly Smale (Geek Girl #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humour, Romance
Publication Date: February 28th 2013
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?


This was a typical coming-of-age story. Very predictable. Harriet is picked on in school and when she is offered a modelling job, she accepts hoping it will change her life for the better. But she soon realizes that there are bullies wherever you go, and the trick is to ignore them, be yourself, and remember what is really important.
This felt very brief and not much really happened. Her modeling career consisted of one photoshoot, one catwalk, and one interview. It took up a very small part of the book. Most of the book focused on her home life and her relationship with her best friend, Nat. Harriet was not a real geek, but a nerd. Maybe the lingo is different in the UK. But for me, a geek is a person interested in pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, manga, comics, cosplay, etc. A nerd is a person who is extremely smart and enjoys school and studying, and stereotypically has glasses and is socially awkward. That is Harriet. She is quirky and I appreciated her character. There was a bit of humour between her and her adorable stalker, Toby.

There was also a barely-there romance. We know absolutely nothing about Harriet's love interest besides the fact that he is gorgeous, part Asian, and he likes Harriet. There isnt a lot of depth in this. Its definitely for a younger audience than general YA, who would perhaps appreciate the simple message of the story: Be yourself.

“Have you been sniffing glitter again?”

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Education of Sebastian by Jane Harvey-Berrick (The Education of... #1)

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: November 12th 2012
POV: Female - First-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 9 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


A friendship between the lost and lonely Caroline, and the unhappy Sebastian, leads to an illicit love that threatens them both.
Caroline Wilson is trapped in a cold and loveless marriage with an older man. When her husband finally wins a long sought-after promotion, Caroline feels she has little choice but to follow him to a new home in San Diego. There she meets Sebastian, a young man of 17.
For an all too brief summer, their happiness blooms.
But external pressures begin to bear down, not least from the overbearing David, and Sebastian’s parents begin to suspect that their son has a secret. Even Caroline’s new friend, Donna, realizes that dark passions exist below the serene surface.


I have never read anything quite like this before. I think this is about the same age difference as in On the Island. I have read A Rush of Wings, in which the hero is 21 and the heroine is 28. And Inhale, in which the hero is 24 and the heroine is 32. But this has a 17 year-old hero, and a 30 year-old heroine. Like a lot of people probably were, I was a bit skeptical to start because of the age gap. But it was really well done.

Sebastian really made this book. He was so unbelievably sweet. Like ridiculously sweet. Like Peeta or Ky. The kind of boys you usually only find in YA books. Although this is an adult erotica, Sebastian is nothing like the kind of men you usually find in this genre. He is not a controlling alpha male. He is not an arrogant ass. He is a YA boy stuck in an erotica. And he has an absolute, all-consuming, unconditional love for Caroline. The kind of love you usually only find in a PNR, where hero and heroine have faced death and gone through heaven and hell together. Sometimes literally. Somehow, Sebastian and Caroline found that kind of love through surfing and coffee shop visits. It is really incredible what they had together. And you can see the evidence of how they have changed each other. They don't just say, "You've made me a better person," and expect us to take it at face value because its a book. No, we see them change. We see them give each other hope, and purpose, and confidence. It was a truly epic, life-changing love.

"I had chosen--willingly, knowingly, deliberately. I chose love over law. And I didn't care."

But Sebastian was still a realistic teenager, just one in love. He still joked around, used foul language, hung out with his friends, could be uncomfortable in new situations, and had a teenager's optimistic outlook on life. He was forced to take care of himself for years due to his useless parents, which made him more responsible than his age should require, but not necessarily more mature. He didn't behave like a man in a teenage body in order to convince us Caroline could fall in love with him. Caroline fell in love with him for the person he was, regardless of his age. He was the most kind and beautiful soul you could ever hope to meet. The kind of person who sees the beauty in the world and believes love conquers all. But that does not make him weak. He is willing to fight for it. He fights for Caroline and the future he wants for them. And he is so brave. He put up with his parents physical, verbal, and emotional abuse his whole life without letting it change him. Without becoming bitter or wanting pity. And I loved the way he took charge. He was not afraid to show Caroline how much he loved her, and there was certainly a lot of sex in this book. It may have been all new to him in the beginning, but by the end he was a pro, a natural, with unbelievable stamina.

I read the Bonus Seb POV: First Time before I read the book, and I am glad I did. It was great insight into Sebastian's mind. The book is entirely in Caroline's POV. If I hadn't read it first I am not sure if I would have been able to accept or understand Sebastian's feelings as easily as I did. And I have never read the first time for a male virgin from his POV before. I was so fascinated by it that I had to read the book immediately and see what Caroline had been thinking in that moment. To see how similar it was to what Sebastian had been thinking.
"You are my world, Caro." 
"And you're mine."

But I find it unrealistic that Sebastian's age was never an issue for Caroline. The law was a constant issue. What people would think was an issue. But never Sebastian himself. She never thought he seemed too young for her. He never did anything silly or childish that made her question her feelings. It could be considered a good thing I guess, that her love was so complete, but I think there should have been more to it. Some second guessing. Some inner turmoil. This book was all mush and sex, but not much else. There wasn't any conflict between Sebastian and Caroline. There was Sebastian and Caroline's day-to-day life, dealing with the logistics of having an affair, and an illegal affair at that. There was always tension from the possibility of getting caught, but there was no story beyond Sebastian and Caroline being together. Not even the 'falling in love' process, since they were both pretty much head-over-heels by chapter 4. Just enough time for Caroline to accept that her love for a child could change into love for a man. That was one of the only two significant turn of events—when Caroline realized she loved him too, and when they finally got caught.

I personally prefer romances without conflict between the characters. I hate seeing people fight, so I am glad there was no big fight in this beyond a few realistic disagreements. But I know others think a romance is boring without lots of conflict going on. If you are one of them, this isn't for you. This seemed a bit drawn out and its ridiculously long. It just went on and on without end. Not that I didn't enjoy seeing Sebastian and Caroline together, but a few strolls, a few coffee shop visits, and a sex scene or two could have been left out to keep this at a more reasonable length.

And the ending!!! Needless to say it was heartbreaking. But what really bothered me was the way Caroline reacted. She gave up. She promised him she would fight for him, but she didn't. How could she not see what they had? How could she not see that it was the kind of love that most people don't even find in their lifetime, and she expected Sebastian to find it again?! She failed him. I liked Caroline up until then. She was loving and kind. The sort of woman who is always willing to lend a hand. But now I feel as if she can't deserve his devotion if she doesn't return it. I hate to think of what could have been. All the time they lost. I hope she makes up for it in the sequel. I hope she is sorry and she sees how badly she screwed up. I really don't see how either of them could have gone on alone. I am very anxious to read The Education of Caroline, to see how they have fared alone since their separation. I really hope Sebastian is still sweet Sebastian and hasn't been hardened from what happened between them, although I suspect he has. Even though I know the sequel has an HEA, it still breaks my heart to think of all the time that was wasted.

"I love you, Sebastian. So much, tesoro." 
And then I walked away, leaving behind all the goodness and beauty that I'd ever known in my life.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Adventure, High Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: December 11th 2012
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword.


Since Graceling and Fire I have been hoping to find more amazing YA fantasy. Every time another is released my hopes go up, but nothing can quite live up to it. Although this one is the one that came the closest for me so far.

The scope of this is large. The story takes place over 3 kingdoms, with several character POVs. I can think of a total of six, although some are more prominent. Namely Cleo, Jonas, and Magnus, each from a different kingdom. There are very poor relations between the three kingdoms and war is brewing. This reminds me a bit of a YA take on A Game of Thrones; featuring several kingdoms, several characters spread out over the kingdoms, war, and death. There are a lot of character deaths, so dont get too attached to anyone. Unfortunately I did and I cried 3 or 4 times. There are also a lot of dark and evil characters.

My favourite character is by far Magnus. He is such a conflicted character, trapped by his circumstances. I feel so much pity for him. The kind of character you just want to hug. One of the things that I didnt like about this book was the fact that all the characters hate each other. There is so much bias and prejudice between the different kingdoms, and although I see inside their lives and their minds and can grow to appreciate them, they hate each other fervently. Jonas' glowing hatred for Cleo made me hate him for most of the book. He seemed so blind to it that I just could not like him. Although his eyes started to open near the end. And I also really enjoyed Cleo's character, so when she and Magnus met, it was especially painful to see them through each other's eyes. I dont want them to hate each other, Magnus especially does not deserve such hatred. Or maybe I am the biased one now, but I just love Magnus so much. And although I loved Cleo, she could be annoying at times, a bit entitled. I also enjoyed the characters Lucia and Theon, who had some POV chapters, but not as many.

This isnt a romance. There are a few romantic connections, but none are the focus, and there is still no indication of who will end up with who in the end. I havent a clue. Magnus and Lucia? Alexius and Lucia? Magnus and Cleo? Cleo and Jonas? Or no one? I see the possibility of any of the listed combinations although it could be none. But I am leaning towards believing there will be a romance in the end, since there was enough mention of love in this book to think the author wont let it drop yet. Plus all the characters are about the same age, between 16 and 18.

I cant wait for the sequel, Rebel Spring, although I didn't enjoy the hatred in this book, or the death. The characters we care about most need to meet and start working together instead of against each other.

“Hate is such a strong emotion. Much more powerful than indifference. But those who burn with hate can also love just as intensely. Can't they? When you hate--or love--do you do so with all your heart? So much that it feels as if you might die from it?”

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce (Darkangel Trilogy #1-3)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
My Rating: 2 out of 5


They had been searching the mountain for a rare nectar -- the mistress, Eoduin, carelessly scoffing at old tales of the evil creatures they might encounter... the slave, Aeriel, apprehensive, and rightly so. For a darkangel did swoop from the sky, and he stole the beautiful Eoduin away...

Loyal Aeriel understood nothing of the darkangel's purpose, yet knowing would not have stopped her. She vowed to rescue her friend and mistress -- and thus placed herself in Irrylath's power. He took her to his cold, lonely castle to serve Eoduin and his twelve other brides -- tormented soulless wraiths who had once been flesh-and-blood women.


Above all, this is a high fantasy adventure. In all three books, the heroine, Aerial, is traveling across an extremely fantastical landscape, collecting magical objects that will help her accomplish her goal. 

The bulk of the books is spent on world-building and describing the landscape, and strange creatures and characters Aerial comes across. It is extremely descriptive and spends a lot of time using old-fashioned English that is hard to understand. Call me spoiled, but I much prefer the way YA books are written today--spending a larger portion of the book in internal dialogue, exploring characters and their motives, their hopes and fears and loves. But if you love the strange new worlds of high fantasy, this definitely has that in abundance.

I didn't feel that I really knew Aerial or Irrylath, or what was really going on in the story. And I did not find the relationship between them believable. At the end of the first book, after Aerial released Irrylath from the curse, he was a completely different person. He didn't even look the same. I have trouble seeing how Aerial could love him before, and after. One or the other version of him perhaps, but not both. And as a reader, I can attest to that. I can't explain other people's love for the series, but personally I felt confused by the fact that the first book featured an anti-hero who you slowly grew to understand and accept. And just as you do he disappears and is replaced by a different young man. A long lost prince and budding hero. I felt slightly robbed.

And I also had a problem with the fact that they were first cousins. I know people used to marry their cousins, and still do today in some countries. I believe the heroine from Austen's Mansfield Park even married her cousin, and that was only 200 years ago. Also, this series is set in a completely different world where that may be acceptable. But the book was written only 30 years ago, in America. Why try to force something on us that you know would be completely foreign and uncomfortable compared to our way of life? The fact that they were cousins served no purpose. And not only was Aerial Irrylath's cousin, so was the other woman who was in love with him--a first cousins from the other side of his family.

The ending was really disappointing. It didn't have an HEA. It is what writers distinguish as a love story, not a romance. If I had known that ahead of time I wouldn't have read this book. But as I said, I wasn't really attached to the characters, so it didn't upset me too much. And I learned my lesson. I never read a book anymore if I have any reason to doubt the ending.

“Aeriel felt her heart grow troubled. "I know," she said. "I know that he is evil, but his beauty unmakes me. Every time he looks at me, I die.”
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