Tag: Erica’s Reviews

Guest Review: His Clockwork Canary by Beth Ciotta

Posted September 19, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

15812190Erica’s review of His Clockwork Canary  (The Glorious Victorious Darcys #2) by Beth Ciotta.

Amazon synopsis: “For ambitious engineer Simon Darcy, winning Queen Victoria’s competition to recover lost inventions of historical significance is a matter of pride—and redemption. After all, it was Simon’s failed monorail project that left his family destitute, and winning the tournament would surely restore the Darcys’ reputation.

Simon sets his sights high, targeting no less than the infamous time-travel device that forever changed the world by transporting scientists, engineers, and artists from the twentieth century. The Mod technology was banned and supposedly destroyed, but Simon is sure he can re-create it.

His daring plan draws the attention of Willie G., the Clockwork Canary, London’s sensationalist reporter. Simon soon discovers that Willie is a male guise for Wilhemina Goodenough, the love of his youth, who left him jilted and bitter. He questions her motives even as he falls prey to her unique charm. As the attraction between the two reignites, Simon realizes that this vixen from his past has secrets that could be the key to his future…as long as he can put their history behind him.”

My review:

I will make no attempt to sum this book up, because there is SO MUCH going on, I would probably confuse the hell out of everyone. Suffice it to say, there are time traveling hippies from the ’60s now in the Victorian period, everything is massively screwed up, and Willie is supernatural and she and Simon were madly in love several years ago, and families are crazy. Okay, you good? Good.

This book SHOULD have rocked my damn world. Anything steampunk, even if it’s not that good, makes me riotously happy. Hippies? Love. Lovers reunited trope? Love. On paper, this was the perfect damn book for me.

So why the hell was reading this book like pulling teeth?

Well, for one thing, it’s the second in a series, and while I didn’t feel totally lost, there is A LOT to sort out and deal with. The glossary of all the different terms/factions in the front got quite a workout.

Secondly, holy cow, this book is slooooooooow. So damn slow. Halfway through the book, I was starting to freak out because they hadn’t really done a damn thing yet. And it didn’t really pick up and get interesting until the last few chapters, when the characters from the first book make an appearance. Our heroine, Willie, thinks: “Bad enough his little sister had married a notorious rake and purported outlaw, but they’d embarked on a spectacular adventure that dazzled and shocked far more than anything Simon and Willie had experienced in their venture this far.” Dude, I freakin’ HOPE SO! (So, I’m hoping this is true. And considering the energy the characters brought to the second book, I imagine the first book will be much better.)

A lot supposedly was going on, and there is a lot going on in the world, but I felt like the book was a lot of going through the motions and then waiting for stuff. For a book so damn concerned about time, the actual story didn’t give a damn about when it got around to actually having something happen.

I kind of really hated the couple. Simon could have been cool, but he felt very whiny, and he annoyed me. Willie could have been totally badass, and she was sometimes, but she irritated the hell out of me. They talked about their history, which was good. But after that, they didn’t talk about crap. Well, no, that’s a lie. They talk A LOT. But they don’t talk about their relationship; they don’t talk about the really important things. I was so frustrated. When Simon says that he loves Willie, I am completely shocked, because other than the sexytimes, there hasn’t been a whole lot of evidence to prove it.

Sigh. I am so disappointed. So disappointed because the world is so amazing. It’s complicated, but it’s seriously awesome. I’m going to try the first book and see how it goes, and hope that this book is just one of those flukes that happen in a series, where you have to get to one point, and you have filler to set that up. That’s my hope, because for so much promise, this book failed to deliver much at all for me.

My rating: 2.0. Sigh.

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

This title is available from Signet.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Enthralled by Meljean Brook, Alyssa Day, Lora Leigh and Lucy Monroe

Posted August 7, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

15808710Erica’s review of Enthralled by Meljean Brook, Alyssa Day, Lora Leigh and Lucy Monroe

Enthralled is an anthology of four new novellas that focus on paranormal storylines.

The first in the book, “The Devil’s Due,” by Lora Leigh is part of her Breeds series. I’ve never read any if the books in the series, and I felt like that lack of knowledge about the world was a serious detriment to my enjoying and understanding much of the story. The idea was cool: that there are these people who have been genetically enhanced with the abilities of different animals. But the novella as a whole work felt very… Well, it was kind of all over the place. A novella has a limited amount of space to convince me of a HEA and this one spent a lot of time focused on other characters. It actually felt like a side story plucked from a larger book. I liked a couple of the other characters much better than the couple I was supposed to be reading about, and I’m curious about their stories, so I may look into this series. However, a lot of this story actively annoyed me, for reasons I’ll get into later.

The second story, “The Curse of the Black Swan,” by Alyssa Day, was just a freaking delight all the way around. I loved how the characters talked to each other and interacted and connected, and it was all just so, so lovely and cute and weirdly very real for a story about a chick who turns into a swan and an undercover half fire demon firefighter. I totally bought this world, and I adore it, and I want lots lots more. The ending was rushed, the Bad Guy reveal annoyed me a bit, but I so didn’t even care. I totally bought into the whole thing and adored it.

The third story, “Salvage“, by Meljean Brook, is part of her Iron Seas series, which I will admit, I am unabashedly, madly in love with. Oh my god, I love these books. Anyway, this story focuses on a minor character from Heart of Steel, Big Thom, who’s a salvager and diver, and his estranged wife Georgiana, and holy crap. It was fantastic. They talked, they worked out their issues in a realistic way, they had crazy adventures, and there was a scene that I will not share that had me rolling around howling with laughter. It may very well be the perfect novella. AND it was full of steampunk awesomeness. So much joy. I would have liked to have seen more, just because I love this world and these characters so darn much, but I still think it worked astonishingly well as a novella.

The fourth story, “Ecstasy Under the Moon“, by Lucy Monroe, part of her Children Under the Moon series. Again, cool concept: shapeshifters were the ancient Picts, that split up into different clans, and are now (but this is still in the medieval period) trying to mend fences and join forces and all of that. Very cool. Occasionally the language felt forced and Una had something terrible happen to her, but we don’t really get the details. We get one detail, and it’s terrible, but, as bad as it was, feels anticlimactic to what I expected the story to be. I basically didn’t feel any connection to any of the characters, though. And…

Okay, quick little rant here. I hate the idea of two people being “destined” or “chosen” for each other, and then that’s it. That’s the whole reason why they’re together and they’re in love. It happened in “The Devil’s Due” and in “Ecstasy Under the Moon”, and it made me freaking insane. I mean it’s cool that they have some chemical or spiritual connection that draws them to each other. BUT you gotta show me that even without that predestined factor, these people would still choose each other. In “Ecstasy Under the Moon,” they had all these meetings where they talked and apparently bonded, and I didn’t get to see any of it. I was told that they bonded, that they shared stories, etc., but I didn’t see it. So then they get together and it’s all good because they’re soulmates or something and I’m like, ugh. I get it. It’s a novella, there’s not a lot of room. But, in my mind, watching the couple that I’m supposed to be connecting with and rooting for a HEA for come together in a real and meaningful way should be the main freaking reason why I’m reading the book. In “The Devil’s Due,” I missed out on two weeks of their relationship and then they were HEA because of all this stuff that had happened off the page and I’m FURIOUS, because right now I don’t believe that they love each other. I believe they’ve got some crazy chemical reaction thing going on, they’re hot, and they’re both good in the sack. And that’s it. That’s annoying as hell. One of the reasons why I adored the other two novellas so much was that I actually saw these two people talking and interacting and laughing and being vulnerable and falling in love. I am totally convinced of their HEAs because of that.

Okay. Rant over.

It’s tough grading this book as a whole, because of my wildly different reactions to the stories contained. Since one I’d grade a 5.0 (“Salvage”), one a 4.5 (“The Curse of the Black Swan”), and two I’d give 2.0 (“Ecstasy Under the Moon” and”The Devil’s Due”), I’m going to average it all out and say a 3.0 for the book. This is with the caveat that everyone needs to read Salvage immediately, or I’ll beat you up. Not really. 🙂


This title is available from Berkley Trade.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Guest Review: Tempted by His Kiss by Tracy Anne Warren

Posted August 6, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Tempted by His Kiss by Tracy Anne WarrenReviewer: Erica
Tempted by His Kiss by Tracy Anne Warren
Series: The Byrons of Braebourne #1
Also in this series: Seduced by His Touch, At the Duke's Pleasure, Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed, The Bed and the Bachelor, At the Duke's Pleasure
Publisher: Avon, Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
Genres: Historical Romance
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

London Society knows the Byrons are “mad, bad, and dangerous,” and every bit as fascinating as their poetic non-relation. Join the fun as New York Times bestselling author Tracy Anne Warren presents the first tale of this tempestuous family––famous for scandal and legendary at love…

Orphaned beauty Meg Amberley never planned to pose as Lord Cade Byron’s fiancée. Caught in a snowstorm, she takes refuge at his estate. Stranded together, Meg soon finds herself falling under Cade’s spell. When the roads clear, she intends to leave, but fate intervenes.

Haunted by his past, Cade Byron has buried himself in the country. Then Meg—with her lush curves and soft, blonde hair—invades his house and his life. With her reputation compromised, he proposes a pretend engagement and a London Season where she can find a husband.

But as their charade deepens, Cade can’t let her go . . . vowing to tempt her with a kiss that just may lead to forever.

Erica’s review of Tempted by His Kiss (The Byron’s of Braebourne, Book 1) by Tracy Anne Warren


Cade Byron is one of the Byron brood, another one who is “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” He’s horrifically injured fighting in France, and has PTSD, avoids his family, and drinks too much. Meg Ambersley is heading to north to Scotland to go stay with her last living relative, but a snowstorm prompts her to seek shelter from Cade’s house. She cajoles him into actually being slightly social, and they become friendly, and then one night when Cade is super-doped up and has no idea what’s going on, he puts Meg into a slightly compromising situation. So, they decide to pose as engaged, have a London season, and Meg will meet someone else, “jilt” Cade, and life will go on.Well, obviously, that’s not going to happen. I mean, seriously, you silly people, can’t you see you’re in a romance novel?The problem with this story, was that I never lost sight of the fact that I was in a romance novel. I was never really worried that they were going to screw up so massively that they could miss their happy ending. I was never totally swept away on the journey you take when reading a good love story. You may know intellectually that the happily-ever-after is an assured thing, but you sweat, worrying that that the characters will do something dumb if you put the book down. And I was never, ever once so swept up that I could forget the structure of the romance and worry about the characters and their emotions.

Which really totally sucks, because there was some interesting stuff going on. Cade’s PTSD was something worth talking about, but it was acknowledged that he’s been through some crazy bad stuff in the war, and… that was it. It seemed brushed under the rug. Cade and Meg were so well-matched in the beginning: mocking each other gently, playing each other at chess, matching wits perfectly equally. And then later… Well, I can’t get into the details. But basically Meg could have been shown as this total badass, but the opportunity is dropped and she’s just another girl who does extremely dumb things. And it affects my enjoyment of her relationship with Cade, because they had been so well-matched, and then she’s just a silly girl, and I was disappointed. The Bryon family dynamics seemed like the typical big, slightly crazy family, and I wanted more details about what exactly makes the BYRONS so crazy and awesome. Because they could have been any big family.

I dunno what to tell you. It wasn’t bad. There were some lovely things that I really appreciated. But I felt like everything was framework. Everything was on the surface, and there wasn’t enough behind it for me. There were lovely things that I wanted to see explored, and they were dropped. The relationship started amazingly, and then it got a bit off-kilter. That being said, I may try out another book in the series to see if maybe it was just this hero-heroine combination. I’m giving this one 3 stars — it’s okay to read, there are good times to be had, but I’m not going to gush or tell people that they have to read it immediately or suffer my wrath.

Rating: 3 out of 5

This title is available from Avon Books.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: In the Arms of the Heiress by Maggie Robinson

Posted August 2, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

16056416Erica’s review of In the Arms of the Heiress (Ladies Unlaced #1) by Maggie Robinson

It’s all fun and games until someone falls in love…Independent heiress Louisa Stratton is going home to Rosemont for the holidays and, at the family’s request, she’s bringing her new husband Maximillian Norwich, art connoisseur and artful lover, the man she’s written of so glowingly. There’s one hitch—he doesn’t exist. Louisa needs a fake husband, and fast, to make the proper impression.Charles Cooper, captain of the Boer War and with a background far from silver spoons or gilded cages, is so hard up that even Louisa’s crazy scheme appeals to him. It’s only thirty days, not till death do them part. What’s so difficult about impersonating a husband, even if he doesn’t know a Rembrandt from a Rousseau?The real difficulty is keeping his hands off Louisa once there’s nobody around to see through their ruse. And then there’s the small problem of someone at Rosemont trying to kill him. Keeping his wits about him and defending Louisa brings out the honor he thought he’d left on the battlefield. But when Louisa tries to protect him, Charles knows he’s found a way to face his future — in the arms of his heiress.

Louisa Stratton is an heiress of considerable fortune, and a crappy family back home in England. For the last year, she’s been bouncing around Europe to escape her crappy family and exercise her independence. She’s told her family that she got married to rich, debonair Maximilian Norwich. The problem is that Maximilian doesn’t exist, and she needs to go home. So, she enlists the services of the Evensong Agency to hire a man to pose as her fictional husband for a hefty fee. Charles Cooper was an officer in the army, fought in the Boer War, and definitely has PTSD, and for the money he’s willing to act like Louisa’s make-believe husband.I LOVED this book. LOVED it. When I was halfway through the book, I took it to work and showed it to people and yelled, YOU MUST READ THIS!
I wish I’d finished it first.
It’s not that I didn’t love it, because I totally did. But if I had waited until I was finished and got some distance from the story, I may have been able to be critical enough to think of the problems in the book.

It was seriously so lovely. It’s a historical romance, but it’s not a Regency. I enjoy Regency as much as the next girl, but it was so refreshing to see a different era. It’s set in the early 1900s (if you’re not a not a history buff and can’t just rattle off the dates of the Boer War from the top of your head), and there were some great details to make it feel accurate to the period.Louisa is a freakin’ amazing heroine. She’s a bit wild, a bit impulsive, smart, a proto-feminist, adorable, and extremely awesome. That being said, we didn’t see a lot of her madcap adventures in the story, because her family sucks a lot, and she becomes quiet and subdued around them. This could have been annoying, but I totally understood why she was acting the way she was. Also, I think a lot of her wildness has been a reaction to her family, so her being a bit more thoughtful, to me, read as someone growing up and not just rebelling for the sake of rebelling.Charles is seriously screwed up. He has seen some terrible things and he’s haunted by them and the things he’s done. I loved that he talked about his trauma early in the story, and that he wasn’t magically healed immediately. He does *think* that he’s been healed, which means that when symptoms of his PTSD manifest later in the story, he totally freaks out and pulls away from Louisa out of fear that he’ll never be normal. I thought this was awesome, because PTSD is a complicated problem, and it is not often addressed realistically in romance. I don’t this was realistic, per se, but it was the closest to realistic that I’ve seen. I loved how he felt like a real guy. I just totally loved him.Their chemistry was smokin’. Their conversations were hilarious. I freakin’ loved them. I loved them so much. They were so adorable. They had real issues, and they worked them out, and even when Charles decided to be a douche for a second, Louisa was patient and talked to him and they worked through it.

So the relationship was freaking amazing. Amazing. The plot was interesting. There was good stuff abounding.

And then the book ends, and it almost completely destroys all the amazing stuff. The resolution of the mystery was okay, but it happened too quickly and too neatly. Other resolutions actively made me angry. Not only did they happen entirely too quickly, there didn’t seem to be enough in the story to justify the resolutions. I was annoyed and completely unsatisfied. And then the epilogue happened and it was adorable and I was happy again.

In the book, there are some examples of weak writing. There are some POVs from some characters who I don’t really need to hear about. I assume the only reason why they’re included is to establish some dramatic irony by having the reader know things that Charles and Louisa don’t, but once they learn the information, the POVs from these other characters are dropped. Which, to me, shows that they weren’t necessary. It wasn’t completely egregious, it was just weak and kind of meh, and I loved the rest of the story so much that I am definitely willing to forgive this.The character of Mary Evensong, the chick who runs the Evensong Agency, is fascinating. From the excerpt in the back, she’s going to be a major character in the next book in the series, and I am dying to know more about her.So, while this book had issues, I almost didn’t care because I loved the rest of it so damn much. I will definitely be picking up more books in this series. However much I loved it, I can’t give this book a full 5.0, because the ending was so disappointing and annoying. Darn it. So, because of the ending, I give this a 4.0.Rating: 4 out of 5

This title is available from Berkley.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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