Publisher: Berkley

Guest Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

Posted November 29, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 6 Comments

Guest Review: Someone to Wed by Mary BaloghReviewer: Tracy
Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott series #3
Also in this series: Someone to Love, Someone to Hold
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can't afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate-and oh-so-dashing-earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past . . .

Alexander Wescott arrives at Withington House for tea expecting that he would be meeting some of his new neighbors.  He’s surprised when it’s only the lady of the house, Miss Wren Heyden, and her maid.  He’s a bit put off by the situation and by Miss Heyden, and just wants to leave.  He is shocked when she proposes marriage to him out of the blue.  She had been sitting in shadow and when she reveals herself he sees a large purple mark on one side of her face that she had had since birth.  Alexander agrees to get to know Wren and they start a bit of a courtship that ends with Wren retracting her proposal.

Almost a month later Wren arrives in London.  When Alexander sees her again he knows that marrying her is the right thing to do.  He proposes, and she accepts.  Unfortunately Wren thought that once they were married that she would continue to live in obscurity – she couldn’t have been more wrong.  The reclusive Wren soon finds herself surrounded by Alexander’s accepting family and eventually going out in public without her veil.  The ghosts of her past, however, soon start to tear her apart from the inside and she’s not sure that marrying Alexander was the wisest thing to do as she considers herself a broken woman.

This was such a sweet book.  I have enjoyed the Wescott series so far and this is another good one.  I expected, after book 1, that the books would be strictly about the Wescott children who had found themselves illegitimate after thinking for most of their lives that they were legitimate.  I was wrong and I’m happy about that. 🙂  I didn’t realize that I wanted Alexander’s story until I started reading.  It was so very good and I was happy that Balogh went the direction she did.

Alexander was such a great character and a good man.  He was conscientious and thoughtful and genuinely cared about people.  When he inherited the Earldom he was shocked and overwhelmed.  He had inherited a home that had been completely neglected despite the former earl’s wealth.  Unfortunately that wealth hadn’t come with the title so Alexander was trying to do the best he could.  He knew he needed a rich wife but it was distasteful to him to marry for money – I can’t say I blame him.  Wren presented a perfect solution but he knew that she had many issues and the wall she put up between herself and people would cause problems.  He told himself when she broke things off that he was relieved, but he couldn’t decide if he was being honest with himself.  I was so happy that he made the decisions he did later in the book. He proved that he was the honorable man I thought him to be.  He took such good care with Wren and her sensitivities to people and I loved him for that.

Wren started off not being my favorite.  She was standoffish and caustic and it bothered me as I knew Alexander didn’t deserve it.  She tried to come out of her shell but after being a recluse for twenty years it was difficult, to say the least.  When she finally made it to London she seemed to become a different person and one I greatly admired. She could have so easily stayed in her rooms and continued to be the recluse but she made an effort to show herself despite her self-consciousness and I loved it.  Balogh did a wonderful job writing this heroine!  She had been through so much in her life that she could have folded up into herself and crumbled but she didn’t and loved her for it.

Balogh has become one of my go-to authors when it comes to historical romance.  She always provides a lovely story and wonderful romance and this was another great one.  The Wescotts are a lively family and I can’t wait to read more about them in the future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Retro-Review: Table Manners by Mia King.

Posted November 22, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Retro-Review: Table Manners by Mia King.Reviewer: Rowena
Table Manners by Mia King
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: August 4th 2009
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

The star of Mia King's "entertaining"(Seattle Times) debut novel Good Things is back-and she's got a full plate.

Deidre McIntosh is everyone's favorite go-to person. She seems so successful, so capable, so just plain perfect, with a popular cooking show, her own line of cakes and cookies, and an ideal relationship with Kevin Johnson-considered one of the most desirable men in Seattle.

Then Kevin's ex-fiancée, sultry magazine publisher Sabine Durant, suddenly appears, and Deidre needs help. Already intimidated by Kevin's glamorous, moneyed world-and his sister, who wants Deidre out of Kevin's life-she fears she's no match for Sabine. And the go-to girl must figure out where to go next before the tablecloth is pulled out from under her...

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: Rowena and I both read a lot of Women’s  Fiction in 2008 and 2009. I think we both grew out of it after that, though we both still dip our toes in occasionally. 

This review was originally posted on August 5, 2009.

I’m a big foodie fan so when I come across books that have bakers and chefs, I get a little (okay a lot) excited. Reading the blurb on this book was no different. I thought the cover was so simple, so cute and it added to my excitement of reading this book. So going into this book, there was a lot of things working in its favor and I’m glad to report that Mia King did a great job keeping me locked into her story.

The only thing that I’m pretty bummed about is that I didn’t take the time to read the book that came before this one, GOOD THINGS. The reason for that is because we meet Deirdre in that book and from what I can tell, her story really starts there. It would have been nice to read that book but I wasn’t completely lost in this story. I enjoyed it a whole bunch and as soon as I can, I’m going to track down that book and read it.

This book is about Deidre moving on from the drama that her life has been. She’s giving baking gourmet cookies a shot and she’s genuinely happy with her life. She’s got a great man by her side and her business is doing pretty well until everything starts to crumble around her. She needs to come up with new recipes for new cookies that will be a hit in five days, she doesn’t think she’ll do it and then she’s got to deal with her boyfriend’s evil sister who hates her guts and then, his ex pops back into their lives and Deirdre is about to lose her mind.

This book showed just how far Deirdre has come since everyone first met her in Good Things. She’s got a new life now, she’s not on TV anymore. She’s baking cookies. Her living arrangements have certainly come up and she’s seriously happy with the way that her life is going but to watch her struggle with this new life and then come face to face with the world that her boyfriend is from and not know where you actually fit in made for a great read. I enjoyed seeing Deirdre bumble her way toward the ending and I just genuinely liked her. I thought she was a great character and I really enjoyed the romance between her and Kevin.

I thought Kevin was such a stud. He was so good to Deirdre and he was just one of those stand up guys that is charming and you can’t help but love him. It was his sister Marla that I couldn’t frickin’ stand. Talk about someone swears her shit don’t stink. And then there was Sabine or Tabby as Kevin called her. She was that perfect woman that nobody can compare to and yet, I liked Deirdre better. I thought Deirdre was more down to earth and the person that I wanted to have as a friend. It was funny to see Tabby eyeing Deirdre, that made me laugh. The cast of characters all brought something to the story and I thought they were all well written.

I’m really glad that I read this book. I definitely recommend this book to those of you guys who are looking for something light but not so light that it’s fluffy. There’s a great story between these pages and I really think everyone should try it out. It was a really fast read and a read that left me feeling wistful and hopeful. A definite recommend.

4 out of 5

Check It Out

This book is available from Berkley Trade. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Posted October 5, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini SinghReviewer: Tracy
Archangel's Viper by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #10
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10)
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
five-stars

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

Holly was brutalized by a psychotic archangel, forced to drink his tainted blood and had to watch her friends die in the most horrific way.  She survived, however, and now it’s four years later and Uram’s blood is turning Holly into…something.  When angels turn humans the humans turn into vampires.  Not so with Holly.  She’s part vampire and needs blood but she also needs food to survive. She has strange powers and her bite is poisonous.  Holly has been hiding from her friends and mentors all of the changes that have been taking place in her and the powers that are getting stronger and changing all the time.  She’s scared of what they all mean.  Now that Venom is back, however, she can’t hide any longer as he sees her for who she is.

Venom has been at the Refuge for the past two years and only mentoring Holly via phone calls once a week.  Now that he’s back he sees that that hasn’t been enough.  She’s learned a lot from Janvier and Ashwini but Venom sees the changes in Holly that others might not have noticed. He sees that she’s a lot like him and he tries to teach her how to deal with those changes. When he heads out with Holly to see who has a bounty on her head he gets to know her even more.  Though he tries to ignore the attraction between them and the admiration he has for her he soon realizes that she’s the one he needs in his life – permanently.

Wow.  Venom and Holly’s story was SO good!  I wasn’t sure how this was all going to play out as Venom has been nothing but stoic in the previous books.  I wondered if he could fall in love and what that would look like.  I now know and it was beautiful!

I loved the banter between Venom and Holly.  Even when they fell in love it didn’t end and that was nice to see.  Just because they fell in love didn’t turn them into mushy baby talkers. Lol  Of course Singh would never do that with her characters, but I still appreciated it. 😊

The story revolved around Holly and the strange thing that was growing/awakening in her. Not only was she freaking out over that but then something new and different gets added to the mix when Holly meets another of Uram’s survivors.  I couldn’t believe how strong Holly was to put up with what was going on inside her.  Sure, she was physically strong but her mental strength was incredible.  She went through some amazing situations that would break a normal person but she got through them like a champ.  I was so impressed by Holly, can you tell?

Venom was awesome.  I loved him in this book.  He was strong and capable, understanding and compassionate, caring and loving, and sexy as hell.  Could you ask for a better hero?  I also loved how he let Holly do her thing and didn’t try to control the situations.  I want a Venom of my own, oh yes, I do. Lol.

Singh’s writing, storytelling ability and world-building were once again AMAZING.  I don’t know how she does it time after time but all of it combined blows my mind…every time.  I picked this one up and once I started reading I couldn’t put it down.  If you’ve been reading the series you won’t want to miss this one.  If you haven’t read the series?  You’re seriously missing something wonderful.

Rating: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Posted September 25, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly
Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #10
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn’t a vampire or an angel…or human…

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

I’ve been curious about Holly since she was attacked by Uram in the first book. It’s been two years since the attack. She went to a really dark place for awhile, but she’s finally coming back to herself. It would be a lot easier if she didn’t have so many strange powers inside her. Powers that are still growing and changing. No one understands what she went through with Uram. But Venom, for all that he annoys the crap out of her, understands her in a way no one else does.

For 400 years Venom has been alone..until Holly. She’s still a baby and not meant for him, but he can’t deny it’s..nice..having someone who gets him. When a contract is taken out on Holly’s life, they must work together to solve the mystery of who wants her dead..while also dealing with Holly’s erratic and growing power.

Venom has never been a favorite for me. I didn’t dislike him in previous books, but I didn’t care about him as I’ve grown to care about many of the other members of Raphael’s Seven. I have to admit, I’m totally a fan now. He still isn’t my favorite of the Seven, but I really enjoyed getting to know him.

Venom’s relationship with Holly was complicated and built up slowly over the course of the novel. I can see where this may frustrate some long-time readers of the series, but I personally thought it worked well in the context of the story. It wouldn’t have been believable if they’d just fallen into a permanent relationship with one another, especially since there was such a huge imbalance of power in the beginning.

Some loose threads from early novels are tied up here. Questions about Uram’s relationship with Michaela were answered, and we found out more about Venom and Holly. There was a lot happening here, but it flowed well and I was fully immersed in the action and their journey. Holly’s growth over the course of the novel, as well as her developing friend/relationship with Venom especially worked for me.

Another killer installment in a kickass series.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Posted September 24, 2017 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Another Guild Hunter novel! I love Elena, Raphael, the other Guild Hunters and his Seven. Venom wasn’t my favorite of the Seven going into this book, but man do I heart him now. Archangel’s Viper features Venom and Holly, the only living victim from book one, Angels’ Blood.

Sunday Spotlight: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini SinghArchangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #10
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10), Archangel's Viper
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn’t a vampire or an angel…or human…

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO
 

Holly is such a smartass. I love the banter between her and Venom.

Excerpt

“Has Neha ever tried to lure you back?”

Venom sent Holly another slow smile, wondering exactly how much she’d picked up of the current state of archangelic politics. It was probable that she had no idea Neha now considered Raphael an enemy, though Venom had the feeling Neha’s hostility was intermingled with a deep sense of loss. When beings lived that long, their emotions tended to be complex, layered things where contrary feelings could exist side by side.

Venom wasn’t that old. His emotions were less knotty—and his pleasures simpler. Annoying Holly ranked at the top. “Everyone wants me.”

She snorted. “Doesn’t being that delusional make it hard to function?”

He felt his lips tug up . . . right as Holly stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk. He’d snapped out an arm and curved it around her waist before she did more than sway a little. She’d reacted quickly, too—just not as quickly as him. The side of her body slammed into the front of his, his hand fitting into the curve of her waist.

She was gone as fast, jerking out of his hold with the inhuman speed that made her so much fun as a sparring partner. “If I wanted to be pawed,” she said, brushing her arm as if brushing off his germs, “I’d go to a furry convention.”

“If you thought that was pawing, kitty,” he said with deliberate sophistication in his tone, “your education has been sadly lacking.”

She forgot her coolly elegant persona and made a face at him. He’d reached out a finger and flicked her nose before he thought about what he was doing. Eyes narrowing, she hissed at him, flashing those tiny fangs he still couldn’t believe were functional. “Next time you touch me, I’m going for blood.”

“It’s been said that once you go Venom, you never go back.”

“Argh!” Holly fought the urge to take off one of her high heels and throw it at his smug head. But she’d spent good money on those heels, she reminded herself. Money she’d earned in the work she did with Ashwini and Janvier—work that meant she had far better contacts in this part of town than Smugface Venomous.

Taking a deep breath in an effort to control her racing heart as the otherness that lived in her stretched inside her skin, she turned her attention to the club that had appeared out of the darkness. The neon was pink and blazing and the outside walls matte black covered in creative white graffiti.

Used needles lying carelessly against one wall glinted in the neon glow.

“They like pretty boys here,” she said to the deadly vampire who was very much a man. “You shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

His hand was suddenly against her lower back.

Holly went to kick back her heel when he said, “Don’t.”

It wasn’t the word that got her to pause, it was the tone. It was the same calm, dangerous tone he’d used just before they’d fought off the goons who’d tried to kidnap her. Scanning the area in the way Ash had taught her, she caught the furtive movement on the left, deep in the shadows to one side of the club.

Her chest eased. “I know them.” She stepped away from Venom’s coiled body. “Don’t follow me.”
He just looked at her.

Rolling her eyes, she patted the taut muscle of his biceps. “It’s okay, Sir Venomous, Knight of the Tower. You can move fast enough to rescue the damsel in distress if she squeals for help.” She turned and walked away before he could respond.


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About the Author

Bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

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