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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hero downgraded!

Into the Fire (Vatta's Peace #2) 
by Elizabeth Moon


Things are not right! Having returned to Slotter Key a hero, Kyla Vatta has survivors from Miksland turning up as escapees on her doorstep, and Ky's suddenly trapped in her house having been declared a non citizen and wanted for questioning. The whereabouts of the other personnel who escaped from Milksland is unknown and alarmingly Aunt Grace is coming under legal and personal attack. Facts surrounding Grace's past are brought to light that threaten her freedom. Stella is forced to dig deep and finds herself more capable than she thought. 
At times I found events in Into the Fire somewhat disjointed. Stella's self pitying stance becomes dangerous for all. On the other hand she is being kept in the dark by Ky. Even though we have seen Stella come into her own as a highly talented woman, here we see her face unforeseen danger and grow from that testing. 
Ages old mysteries are brought to light and Ky finds the past rushing up to capture the present. Danger looms and the enemy is faceless. Whom to trust is moot as the very fabric of Slotter Key is threatened. Politics and legalities threaten Kyla and Rafe and the plans they'd been making are put on hold as survival becomes prime. These are times of surprises, shocks, and danger to the existence of Slotter Key.
Overall, another Elizabeth Moon gift from the Slotter Key menagerie.

A NetGalley ARC


Danger stalks the night!

(Lost to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies #3) 
by Sharon Cullen.    


It's 1567 Edinburgh, turbulent times in Scottish history. Emma Howard, Lady-in-waiting and close confidante to Mary, Queen of Scots, wakes to find herself in the care of a stranger. Lord Darnley, wedded to Queen Mary, has just been murdered and it seems Emma might have seen something suspicious. 
All that is moot because she was knocked unconscious as Kirk o’ Field exploded. The stranger, Englishman Tristan Fitzherbert, a spy for Queen Elizabeth had found Emma laying unconscious near to the source of the explosion and taken her to his printing works. Tristan has been printing seditious leaflets, stirring up the people of Edinburgh. This latest happening goes to the heart of the court and Lord Bothwell, Mary's undisputed advisor.
As Emma learns more, both her heart and deep friendship with Queen Mary will be tested.
As she keeps internally declaiming, if she'd only taken a carriage home that fatal night, all would be so different. Her ignorance of what was actually happening politically would have buffered her from the reality in many different ways.
The story focuses on the development of the relationship between Tristan and Emma, with the backdrop of these dangerous times during Mary's reign. I enjoyed this episode of All the Queen's Spies, although I felt the resolution of the story was almost too quick and the fascinating political happenings are overshadowed by the brewing romance/lust between Emma and Tristan. I must say that the bid for safety by Emma is quite heart stopping.

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Highlander sufferance?

What a Highlander's Got To Do (Untamed Highlanders #) 
by Sabrina York


I just did not identify with Isobel Dounreay Lochlannac.  And the idea that she'd give her virginity to a handsome stable lad is just not realistic for the times, although it could be argued that it's realistic for this particular headstrong, wild, young Scots woman. 
Of course the stable lad is really Nick Wyeth, Viscount Stirling. Unfortunately, despite the swoon worthy description of Nick, and his devotion to Isobel who is determined not to marry an Englishman, I found him somewhat flat.
I was so over Isobel by third of the way through the novel. Sadly my sympathies for the story as a whole just didn't engage.

A NetGalley ARC


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

'Death by kitten!'

As the Devil Dares (Capturing the Carlisles #2)    
by Anna Harrington


'Death by kitten!'
An hilarious scene that shows a deft writing skill, alleviating the tensions that permeate 'As the Devil Dare.' Laced with humor, personal anguish and regret are strong undercurrents in this fascinating portrayal of a woman trying to find her place in a man's world and a Lord who blames himself for the death of his father, trying to appease his conscience.
Lord Robert Carlisle is desperate for a partnership in Winslow Shipping Company, desperate to prove himself. Mariah Winslow is equally as desperate to show her father that she can run a business, that she has the wherewithal and intelligence to be a part of the world she loves.  Henry Winslow proposes to Carlisle that he will become a partner if he can provide Mariah with a proper season, and marry her off. Mariah dubbed the 'Hellion' by society has a deep seated attachment to an orphanage run by her mother, a place unbeknownst to her has been targeted for development. Carlisle and Mariah are at odds from the beginning and their differing desires are set to collide.
Tension, drama and romance heat up the pages. 

A NetGalley ARC


Wounded Warrior meets his match!

No Earls Allowed (The Survivors #2)  
by Shana Galen            


I was so looking forward to the next in The Survivors series, and I was not disappointed! 
This time it is Neil Wraxall's story, acknowledged illegitimate son of the Marquess of Kensington.
Neil was part of Draven's Dozen an elite troop who had fought hand to mouth against Napoleon, where death was a surety. It's these men's return to peacetime England that is the problem. "They were the only men alive who had gone to hell and come back again." Neil had been known in the group as The Warrior. Now those who'd survived were feted as heroes. Unfortunately war has not prepared the survivors for peace time. "And that was part of the problem. If he wasn’t the Warrior any longer, who was he?" 
Self realization, self acceptance and love for both Neil and Lady Juliana is key.
When his father asks Neil to assist the Earl of St. Maur in bringing his daughter home from the home she's involved in in the Rookeries Neil sees no problem. That is until he actually meets Lady Juliana. Then his world implodes as the 'Virgin' Warrior finds himself in the fight of his lifetime for an unrepentant champion of orphans and the focus of a crime lord's desire.
A totally delicious read!

A NetGalley ARC


Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Confused Hero!

The Marquis and I (The Worthington's #4)  
by Ella Quinn


Enjoyable, comic romantic farce opening with a wary Marquis rescuing a kidnapped damsel. Although the damsel is not so much distressed as angry and the 
Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth, keeps wondering what gods he'd offended to be in the wrong place at the right time. That is until he discovered that he rather liked Lady Charlotte Carpenter, and furthermore maybe marrying her might not be such a bad idea if only Charlotte would see the light. Unfortunately, the rescue attempt has unforeseen consequences and Con and Charlotte are discovered by a notorious ton gossip in somewhat compromising circumstances, forcing Con to do the 'honorable' thing. Charlotte however needs to be convinced.
Charlotte has been kidnapped by the procurer and brothel owner, the dastardly, cold 'Miss Betsy' whom Worthington previously had put out of business. Betsy's running a profitable side business abducting young women and children and selling them to the highest bidder for nefarious purposes. Charlotte's kidnapping is a vengeance move but something darker lies behind it.
Delving into the actions surrounding the madcap Worthington family is a joy. Unexpected and full of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed Con's interaction with children of the household. The bold young servant Jemmy, who keeps appearing in the rescue attempts, is a treasure. I so adore his feistiness and general dare devil actions.
Quinn's light touch with Con's unlooked at acceptance of women of the demi monde underscores the darker note on historical circumstances around Regency times Kids Kens and abducted young women is quite revealing. Human trafficking has been with us for a very long time.

A NetGalley ARC


Monday, February 26, 2018

"What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mark10:9 KJV)

Sins of Lord Lockwood (Rules for the Reckless #6) 
by Meredith Duran

Something Anna later says reminded me of this biblical quote...and a man did indeed intervene to tear apart Anna and Liam in this fabulous new work from Meredith Duran.  A sizzling romance with a tortured hero and a wildly independent Scottish Lady, Anna, Countess of Firth and a wealthy woman.
When Anna's husband, Liam Devaliant, fifth Earl of Lockwood, disappeared after an argument on the eve of their wedding trip, she was alarmed and distressed but underneath, not surprised. After all the story of her life has been one of abandonment. That night their ship sailed without them both along with Anna's heart which would never be the same. 
Anna leaves for her Scottish island, Hawsey her haven of safety. From here she conducts her own businesses and oversees her husband's vast estates.
Four years on Anna goes to London. Hawsey is under threat. What Anna finds is her husband in residence in the London house with some seiously strange inhabitants posing as servants.
As we discover, and Anna at a later date, Liam's disappearance was not abandonment but abduction. He was taken and smuggled away from England as part of a Transportation scam. "Rich men paid...to dispatch their enemies, [and] sent to serve as slaves at Elland.” These unscrupulous persons paid to have someone disappeared from their life and transported to the New South Wales colony. A further development was that some convicts and abductees would then be siphoned off to an illegal migration mining venture. A hell hole in a continent that at time was full of hell holes of varying natures.
Liam and his men survived. Now the perpetrators are being tracked and Anna's sudden return has put her in danger. Liam's plans for revenge could be seriously undermined.
A tortured soul, Liam finds it impossible to reveal his true self to anyone, including Anna. Anna throws down the gauntlet and declares she wants an heir. Their efforts will take place in darkness. Liam doesn't want to show his scars, figuratively and literally. It seems these two find satisfaction in the marital bed and for Anna this is both a revelation and reminder of all that was taken from her with Liam's abduction.
I love Anna when she realizes what really happened to Liam, and that not only was he cruelly treated but she was punished too.  Four years of her life, her dreams were lost to her by the monstrous events and the monster responsible. As she says to Liam, "I am your wife. Whoever took you, took you from me. It is entirely my concern.” They had indeed been pulled "asunder" by man! 
The action jumps between 1861 at the time of Anna and Liam's courtship and marriage to the present. This seamlessly gives us the background and knowledge to the current state of affairs.
Broken love, mystery, death and healing relationships are all part and parcel, of this sixth entry in the Rules for the Reckless series.
A hearty, anguished read with moments of humor and delight. Victorian Noir at its best!

A NetGalley ARC