The Bride Who Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor


The Bride Who Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (364 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her…

The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once―an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…

Emma can’t deny the appeal of the earl’s attention, and occasional affection, but she has no need for a man. There are worse fates than spinsterhood, as Emma knows too well. She still mourns the loss of her dear friend Lena, and is determined to prove Lena’s husband responsible for her death before he lures another innocent woman into a brutal marriage. But as Emma pursues her prey, a compromising moment upends all her plans. Now, with gossip swirling and her reputation in tatters, Nick may be the only man brave enough to join in Emma’s cause. . .and fight for her heart.

The Bride Who Got Lucky can be categorized as friends to lovers romance novel. Nicholas St. Mauer and Lady Emma Cavensham have known each other for a long time. Nicholas saved Emma from her own adventure once and then he gave her a present; in return he got a kiss from her. But years passed before the two of them are thrown together again. Although neither of them wanted to get married, destiny has other plans for them.

The Bride Who Got Lucky is a magnificent story. It is rich and beautifully written. It goes beyond romantic pursuit between the hero and heroine. Once I started to read it I just could not put it down. There are many things that make this novel great. The plot makes this more than just another historical romance novel. It combines romance, adventure and social issues. In the novel the author deals with the status of women in society and she raises the issue of domestic violence. These topics are well incorporated into the story and added value to it. Furthermore, the novel is part of a series, yet it can be read as a standalone. The minor references to the previous titles in the series can be disregarded and the reader can fully enjoy this story.

As for the characters, the hero is amazing and the heroine is larger than life, feisty and a blue stocking all at the same time. The hero, Nicholas St. Mauer, has a bit of a father issue. He lives in the past due to some unresolved issues between him and his father but it is also what makes him the way he is. The heroine, Lady Emma Cavensham, is a lady ahead of her time. She bends rules and she uses her social status for a good cause. She is driven by guilt and there were moments in the story when she did something very impulsive and got herself into trouble. But she genuinely wants to help women, so for me Emma was a great character and is so different from many other historical romance novel heroines.

All in all this is amazing and complex story that I highly recommend.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James


When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length; Full Length (270 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

I like this version on the theme of Beauty and the Beast because it’s not so much about the outside, but the inside of a person. Believe it or not Piers and Linnet took turns at being both beauties and beasts. It wasn’t all about personalities as it was about emotional scars from their past. They both took different paths in dealing with the adversity that life threw at them. The hero’s was to be sarcastic, cutting and grumpy, the heroine’s was to don an emotional mask, wielding flirtation like a sword in order to keep her heart protected. They are more similar than not but different enough to make things interesting.

I actually enjoyed watching their relationship grow – their dialogue, their exchanges of personal information, their conflicts and their resolutions. I especially liked when Piers finally seduced Linnet because the heat and passion was off the charts. I relished the idea of her lust being awakened to the point that it overpowered Piers’ resistance to her and he succumbed as well. It was rather beautiful to see. It wasn’t all sunshine and flowers, however. There was a dark side to the relationship which was exacerbated by an external conflict that really tested their fledging association.

This novel is told in the third person from both Piers’ and Linnet’s point of view. There is a small section that tells part of the story from one of the secondary characters POV but it is sort of a resolution of a secondary romance. It was rather sweet and it tied in perfectly to the main love story.

I despaired of Piers ever getting out of his own way though. I liked him, I truly did but sometimes he was just too sarcastic and afraid. Yes, for all his brave talk and manliness, he was fallible. I guess that made him approachable in a way but a few times, not.

There is a very intense and emotionally nerve wracking chapter or two that completely engaged me and had me at the edge of my seat. I’m happy to say that I survived the reading but what an effective bit of writing! It was at that point that Piers showed how much of a true hero he was.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a wonderful historical romance that satisfied me because the happily ever after was perfect and thorough. I was entertained, engaged and I turned the last page with a smile on my face. I have no problem recommending this novel to other historical romance readers. It’s a treat.

Perfect for You by Candis Terry

perfect
Perfect for You by Candis Terry
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (239 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Declan Kincade has spent so much time chasing success he’s almost forgotten how to just live. Lately though, his all-business routine has been thrown into disarray. Brooke Hastings is the best employee Dec’s ever had: polished, capable, and intelligent. After four years, he’s just realized that she’s also smoking hot. But their working relationship is too valuable to stake on a fling, no matter how mind-bendingly pleasurable it promises to be.

What’s worse than never meeting the right man? Finding him, and then working side-by-side every day while he remains absolutely blind to your existence. That is, until one temptation-packed road-trip changes everything. Teaching her gorgeous, driven boss how to cut loose and have fun is the toughest challenge Brooke’s ever faced. But it’s one that could give both of them exactly what they need, if Dec will take a chance on a perfect—and perfectly unexpected—love.

Bucket lists, family-love-in-action, and delightful humor are attention-keeping threads running through this love story that sparkles.

Feeling his mortality after the death of his parents, Declan Kincade, now wealthy at age thirty-three, realizes he is lacking in matters of the heart, and he has forgotten how to have fun. His single-minded focus on his career has made him oblivious to too many things. He did get a wakeup call when his twin brother Jordan mentioned Declan’s executive assistant was “hot as hell.”

Brooke Hastings, the beautiful executive assistant with her high IQ and bubbly personality, is a buffer between him and any disgruntled client; so by the time Declan sees the client everything is pleasant.

In spite of growing up under horrible conditions, Brooke knows how to have fun. Not only that, but she fantasizes about her gorgeous boss. Her passion for life is infectious; so, when they take a fifteen hour road trip to his family’s Sunshine Creek vineyard and stay in a cabin together, she makes it her mission to help Declan learn how to have fun—my goodness, the sparkle she adds to a their working trip sweeps the reader along from one adventure to another and some of them sizzle.

As they work with his brothers to put the vineyard back in the black, emotions race along at a fever pitch, with everyone in Declan’s family offering advice and “help” on all issues from love life to business.

How Brooke and the stranger Lili MacKay influence the Kincade family includes both business and emotions in a BIG way. The changes in Declan, as he and Brooke find their way to happy-ever-after, make one smile—“gotta” love that man.

Candis Terry’s insightful development of the characters is a joy to read. The dialogue shows personalities in most unique ways.

Perfect for You is a pleasure to read!

Good Vampires Go to Heaven by Sandra Hill

good
Good Vampires Go to Heaven by Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon Books, imprint of HarperCollins Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (252 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

WHEN HE WAS BAD . . .

Two-thousand-year-old vampire demon Zeb is supposed to spend eternity turning mortal sinners into bad guy Lucipires like himself. That way, they can grow their numbers and fight the vampire angels known as Vangels. But Zeb is a bad boy in a good way—secretly working as a double agent for none other than St. Michael the Archangel in hopes of one day earning his wings. Problem is, Zeb’s betrayal is discovered.

Hello, demon dungeon.

HE WAS VERY BAD . . .

Until Regina, a foxy, flame-haired Vangel witch on a rescue mission, busts out Zeb, along with three oddball Lucipire witches. Hello, temptation!

BUT TOGETHER THEY WERE VERY GOOD . . . !

Their escape unleashes a war to defeat all Vangels forevermore. In an epic madcap battle between good and evil, a Demon just might earn his wings . . . and spend eternity with the Vangel of his wildest dreams.

Fans of the series finally get their long awaited HEA for Zeb, the double agent Lucipire vampire. For so long, his character has assisted the Vangels in their fight against evil but in the last novel readers found out that he got caught. Readers know that Jasper is a mean and twisted villainous character so I wasn’t sure what Ms. Hill was going to have him torture Zeb with in Good Vampires Go to Heaven. The answer and this book was worth waiting for.

In this novel, readers finally get to know how Zeb was recruited in the first place. They also get his backstory which was effective in gaining sympathy for his character. Plus Regina, the impatient heroine, finally gets her happy ever after by grabbing a chance to finally see some action. I got to see her backstory as well, and she’s definitely a result of the time period she lived in. By becoming a vangel, it gave her a second chance. I liked that she’s a bit unorthodox in her methods, and she fumbles here and there, but her goal, and ensuing relationship with Zeb because of it, provides lots of entertainment.

Of course there are battles and skirmishes to keep the drama heightened, but the author didn’t explore them with any great detail. Ms. Hill kept the tone light with the focus clearly on Zeb and Regina’s growing romance amidst all the chaos in preparation for the final battle. I think that’s what I appreciated about this last book in the series – the author kept the darkness out from the plot to insure that this last romance was a pleasure to read. No anxiety attacks, no bitten nails, nothing that made me squirm with discomfort, the author made sure the plot conflict did not overshadow the spice and attraction between Zeb and Regina. In doing so, the author made sure I enjoyed myself; it was an easy read.

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone so I appreciated the condensed wrap-up and the embracing of all the heroes and heroines who came before. And, Ms. Hill was consistent to the end with the “Michael dance”. Someday I will see that movie just to get a better understanding of the moves and imagine in my head seven Viking brothers doing it.

My favorite guest appearance was by Tante Lulu. I love that lady because she always makes me smile and I love how the author describes her close relationship with St. Jude. I think we’d all benefit if we acted like intercessory saints were our best buddies and friends and we had constant conversations with them. The love, optimism, enthusiasm and sense of fun and wonder that Tante Lulu embodies makes her stand out in every novel she’s appeared in. She’s a great secondary character.

Yes, Zeb and Regina get some loving action done between the pages. As always, Ms. Hill is able to imbue those scenes with passion, love and even some fun. The writing is well done so they’re quite entertaining and satisfying.

Good Vampires Go to Heaven is a wonderful ending to an exciting, well written and engaging series. Its unique premise, Ms. Hill’s trademark sense of humor and her wonderful way of writing a romance, have truly made this a remarkable series. I’m sad that it’s ended but what a way to go. Fans of the series simply can’t miss this. I wouldn’t recommend new readers start here – it won’t have the impact. This is the culmination of many books where Zeb’s actions earned him a chance at redemption. I’m glad to say it was worth it.

If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell

DUKE
If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (285 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

After four failed seasons and a disastrous jilting, Lady Dorothea Beaumont has had more than enough of her family’s scheming. She won’t domesticate a duke, entangle an earl, or vie for a viscount. She will quietly exit to her aunt’s Irish estate for a life of blissful freedom. Until an arrogant, sinfully handsome duke singles her out for a waltz, making Thea the most popular belle of the season.

The duke ruined her plans and he’ll just have to fix them.

Dalton, Duke of Osborne, is far too heartless for debutantes or marriage—he uses dalliances and public spectacle to distract from his real purpose: finding the man who destroyed his family. When his search leads to Ireland, the last thing he needs is the determined, achingly innocent Thea, who arrives in the dead of night demanding he escort her to her aunt. His foolish agreement may prove his undoing. The road to the Emerald Isle is fraught with unforeseen dangers, but the greatest peril of all might just be discovering that he has a heart…and he’s losing it to Thea.

Sometimes the burden of being proper, perfect and demure is a grueling chore. Compound that pressure with a harping and judgmental mother and grandmother who are determined to choose her life and make her decisions for her that it’s not a wonder that the heroine, Thea, snaps and lashes out in the only way she can; she runs. What happens afterwards is pure entertainment for readers.

I’d read How the Duke Was Won,the first book in The Disgraceful Dukes series and thought that one to be clever and unique so I was really looking forward to If I Only Had a Duke in hopes I’d be equally engaged and amused. I was, completely. This is a 100% standalone read so a new fan can read this one first and not feel left out. This novel is strictly about Thea and Dalton. Charlene, Thea’s half-sister shows up later, but as a secondary character to the events and a sweet touch since they are family.

There are quite a few plot conflicts running simultaneously yet Ms. Bell juggled them with aplomb. I grew to have great respect for Thea and her goals to be free of the yoke of perfection. I admired Dalton’s quest for vengeance and retribution and I liked how Con, Dalton’s friend and co-conspirator, always had the hero’s back, except when it came to Thea. With the heroine, Con acted more like a gruff Cupid combined with a devilish Loki, with an Irish brogue – truly delightful. I giggled quite frequently with the dialogue, both internal and between Thea and Dalton. One of my favorite lines what when she labeled him “The Great Wall of Duke”. I snickered as I typed that. You’ll have to read it to understand why it’s so funny – it’s a cumulative effect.

One of my favorite parts, and there are quite a few, is when Thea stood up to the main harridan; the results are miraculous! Another shocker is the revelation of what truly happened to Dalton’s little brother. I’ve read enough romance stories to guess the real answer but not the whole picture or what happens after that knowledge is gained. I really wanted to hug Dalton at that point. Poor guy – he’s gone through so much already and he’s being hunted on top of it! That underlying bit of suspense always seemed to lurk and pop up when I least expected it. It made for great reading.

The happy ever after is just overwhelmingly wonderful. It’s like Thea’s personality – her refusal to give up, to break or be cowed – just inspired everyone around her to dream bigger, fight harder and not take the first answer as gospel. No one gave up or gave in, well, the good guys at least. The dark characters get their just desserts although the author as a bit light in the details – not that I mind, I found it rather amusing. It was just how Ms. Bell did it.

Yes, If I Only Had a Duke is a whopper of a good tale told with a crisp and engaging style that brings Thea and Dalton to life for readers to enjoy. The sexy shenanigans are saucy, seductive and well-written but I was more entertained with the dialogue, Thea’s opinions and Dalton’s reactions to them. There’s just enough drama and fisticuffs to keep the pages turning, and amusing and silly antics to inspire a reader to grin. I fervently hope that Alice, the secondary character with the most amusingly toxic TMI or waxing poetic about the most obscure scientific gobbledygook, gets her happy ever after too. She wasn’t quite as strong a presence in this story, but Ms. Bell included her just at the right time to remind me how much I thought her amusing. Yes, she’d be an interesting character to match with a duke. I wonder who it will be? I can’t wait until the next book!

Kingpin by Lili St. German

KINGPIN
Kingpin by Lili St. German
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (307 pgs)
Other: M/F, Multiple Partners
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

They say love conquers all.

It’s a lie.

Five days a week, I dressed in smart business clothes. I painted my face, and went to work as an accountant. But nothing about my life was normal.

For eight years I had been the property of the Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club. I laundered their money so well they’d never let me leave. My only glimmer of light was the man I loved. The man who had saved me.

Dornan.

His love had been the only thing that kept the demons at bay. But he’d become so immersed in the cartel’s brutal business that I hardly knew him anymore.

Dornan had been my salvation, but he was also my undoing.

Would he pull me down into the darkness until he destroyed me? Could I save him?

Did I even want to?

He’s a bad, bad boy.

I’ve read plenty of books with plenty of sweet, nice heroes. That’s not Dornan. Sweet isn’t in his vocabulary. I was intrigued, irritated and needed to read more.

I started off liking this book. Ms. St Germain has a way with words. I even liked the characters–despite Dornan being…hard to take.

The longer I read, the more my liking wore off. The writing started off well. Like I said, I was intrigued. But I had a very hard time warming up to Mariana. I get that she’s edgy and has been with a motorcycle club for a long, long time, but instead of getting the strong vibe I expected from her, I kept thinking this woman was so broken. Maybe that was the point. Maybe I supposed to see her as messed up and in need of salvation. If that was the case, then it worked.

While this might not have been the best book for me… it was different. There was plenty of action and adventure. The mistrust and code of conduct going on was very intoxicating. I can see where these characters might be fantastic and sexy.

This book might not have been the one highest on my list, this is a hot read. There’s tension, sweaty hot bodies and plenty of dominance. Give it a try. You might find your next sexy read between it’s pages.

Wanted by Shelley Shepard Gray

WANTED
Wanted by Shelley Shepard Gray
Sisters of the Heart, Book Two
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (166 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

For a split second, Katie feels certain she’s about to receive everything she’s ever wanted. . .

Twenty-year-old Katie Brenneman has always quietly fancied Jonathan Lundy. So when the brokenhearted widower asks her to help him take care of his two young girls, Katie knows it will be a trying time—yet she cannot pass up a golden opportunity to get to know this man better.

Just as she’s settling into her new life, a message arrives from Katie’s past, threatening to expose her darkest secrets. During her Rumspringa, her running-around years, she experimented with activities forbidden in the Amish way of life. Frightened by how far she’d strayed from her values, Katie ran back home, vowing to cut all ties with the outside world. Now her transgressions are coming back to haunt her, just as Jonathan seems willing to welcome her into his heart.

Will the past destroy Katie’s chances for love? Or will Katie allow herself to accept God’s love, forgive her past, and receive everything she’s ever wanted?

Sometimes, a book just speaks to you. You read it at the right time in your life and it holds a deeper meaning than it probably was written to do, yet, that’s what Wanted did for me. Katie, the heroine, made mistakes and like her friend Anna, in Hidden, the past must be dealt with. The doing of it, facing and reconciling with the past in order to have a better, brighter future is a hard thing to do. It’s the main conflict in this book and I think it will resonate with many readers. The best thing though is the message; forgiveness is healing and freeing. A person just has to take those brave, courageous and difficult first steps to get the ball rolling. It’s that kind of journey that Katie takes which makes this book worth reading.

What made this story so special to me were the inspirational words and prayers written within. It’s not preachy or trite. They’re heartfelt and earnest and key to the spiritual nature that is integral to the Amish community that’s being written about. And yet, as divergent as I am, being an Englisher and all, some of the passages in this book eerily echoed the message in my own pastor’s recent homily. To be able to stare at the words, and see how Ms. Gray incorporated them into living life, in a seamlessly believable and honest way, spoke volumes to my heart. This is a romance story, pure and simple and it’s a good one. But it’s also filled with a simple joy, a humble view on life without all the discord and confusion that the pursuit of materialism can bring. Ms. Gray boils it down to respect of a man for a woman and a woman’s pride in doing her best to show how she cares for those she loves. It’s not the words; it’s her actions, her grace and her willingness to do these things without expectation of reward. Doing the right thing does not always end up being its own reward, but sometimes, it is and does.

The external conflict comes from a past that Katie must face. It is actually sad and poignant and full of emotion. It’s an aspect that gave this novel depth and significance. How the author made it come full circle was well done Ms. Gray wrapped it up with a warm and satisfying happy ever after to come. I say ‘to come’ because every step of a romance in Katie’s Amish community seems cherished and respected and never rushed. It’s a given that Katie and Jonathan have found their way to each other and the courtship will be done according to the Amish way, but by doing so did not leave me unsatisfied. If anything, it gave me a gentle pleasure, a warm smile and confidence that all is as it should be. I found Wanted to be an emotionally fulfilling read with characters, both main and secondary that touched my heart. It’s a solid romance.

Even Vampires Get the Blues by Sandra Hill

BLUES
Even Vampires Get the Blues by Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon, Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (241 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

New York Times bestselling author Sandra Hill delivers a sizzling new entry in her Deadly Angels series, as a Viking vangel’s otherworldly mission teams him with a Navy SEAL who’s more than his match— she’s his predestined mate . . .

The fact that vampire angel Harek Sigurdsson was a Norseman in his mortal life doesn’t make thawing out after exile in Siberia any easier. But things heat up when his search for evil Lucipires connects him with Camille Dumaine, a human who thrums with sensual energy that can mean only one thing: she’s the mate Harek’s been seeking for centuries . . .

The SEALs call her “Camo” for her ability to blend into a crowd—yet Harek’s intense blue gaze singles Camille out like a white-hot spotlight. The security wiz was hired to help bring down a ruthless band of international kidnappers, but Camille senses an unspoken agenda—besides Harek’s bold declaration that she’s his “destiny.” Just Camille’s luck that the sexiest man she’s ever met may also be . . . a vampire!

Wow, Ms. Hill pulled inspiration from current headlines and fit them into this story with perfect logic. The weird thing of it is, a few books ago, I sort of wondered if Lucipires were behind the horrible events unfolding and I guess I was right. I mean, if anything could fit the M.O. of Jasper and his evil minions it’s what is going on now. Imagine my surprise when I saw it in action!

Something tells me that the author spent quality time doing serious research in preparation for writing this novel. The one thing that I give her credit for is her ability to wield this knowledge with the gravity and seriousness it deserves without letting the subject overtake, overwhelm or subjugate the story with the darkness of the conflict. The romance is front and center with the focus strongly aimed at Harek and Camille. They made for an interesting couple.

Ms. Hill continues her tradition of clever Viking quips, funny puns and sexual innuendo. This author loves to play with the written word and some of the dialogue, both inner and verbal, was hilarious and truly inspired. All her characters practice a certain form of wit that can be endearing, annoying, (to the other protagonist, with giggle-worthy results) and sometimes insightful. It’s the repartee between the main characters and secondary characters that oftentimes provides the most interesting clues about the hero and heroine’s personalities.

There were some important secondary characters and some that were on stage only to illustrate a point or move the story along. Each and every person in the story had a reason for being there, even if it’s only to have a door slammed in their face. I liked that part.

I can only think of three areas where I think the story fell a bit flat and that was the island and the decision about the undiscovered item, and then the scene when the binding slipped. I’m wondering if the editor really thought that whole interaction through, because I found it inappropriate. Granted, Herek had some clever lines during the process but all I kept thinking about was who was involved. It was explained, true, but still, its handling didn’t sit right with me.

I enjoyed reading about all the sensual hijinks that Harek and Camille explored while they were falling in love. Ms. Hill always has her heroes and heroines have fun during sex and Even Vampires Get the Blues delivers the smiles. Each scene has a bit of dialogue, laughter and the requisite Viking S Spot. I wish I knew how to find it; frankly I’m envious of the heroines.

Even Vampires Get the Blues is an action-filled quick read that was greatly entertaining. I liked Camille’s personality and Harek’s preoccupation with her. If I had to choose one of them as being the most interesting and well-rounded, I’d pick Camille. Her conflict, both familial and personal, was easy to connect with. There’s a lot to like about this novel but my sincerest wish is that somehow, fact would follow fiction, and a certain group would get their comeuppance as only a Vangel could deliver. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Vangels rock!

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

WATCHMAN
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Recent Historical, Fiction
Length: Full Length (278 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch–“Scout”–returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past–a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision–a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

It’s a whole new world and it’s a scary place, but please don’t ignore it.

Confused by that statement? Go Set a Watchman is set twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird and presents the world as a bit of scary, confusing place. But don’t let the perceived fear of the unknown keep you from reading this book.

I already know I’ll take some heat because I rated this book five stars. Many people disliked the book and claimed it needed editing. Yes, the book has some editing issues. That said, the author didn’t want the book edited – that’s the claim anyway. Yes, my inner editor had some issues on those few points. Yes, I found them. But while I had to reread a few places (less than five), I couldn’t put the book down.

I loved Atticus, Scout and Jem from To Kill a Mockingbird. This was a book that shaped my teenage years and the movie is part of my growing up. Atticus was the father figure I always wanted. I was afraid I’d dislike the book because I’d heard some pre-release buzz.

This is my take. Read the book. Read the book all the way to the end. Don’t give up part way through. Got that?

I’m serious. The payoff is worth it.

Scout is, but isn’t, the same little girl from the first book. She’s the same girl, but her views and opinions have changed because she’s lived in New York for a while. There she can be the bohemian of sorts woman, not tied down in marriage and not really caring what others think. Her free-spiritedness is refreshing.

But this story is a story of the times. In the 1950’s, there were pervasive problems with racism and sexism. What needs to be kept in mind while reading is that this book is truly a product of its era, but it’s also a learning curve and growth for Scout. Haven’t we all had a person in our lives whom we looked up to, then found out the person is human after all?

No spoilers, but this is Scout’s story. A lot of loose ends are tied up and sorted out. Scout comes into her own.

Yes, there are things in this book that might make some readers upset. Atticus turns out to not be the man on the pedestal like he was in Mockingbird, but as I’ve said before, read to the end. Everything will be explained and has a reason.

If you’re a little interested in or wondering about the book, pick it up. If nothing else, it may make you think. I sure did. I recommend Go Set a Watchman

A Love Untamed by Pamela Palmer

UNTAMED

A Love Untamed by Pamela Palmer
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (191 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

They are called Feral Warriors—an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release . . .

The newest member of the elite Feral Warriors brotherhood, Fox is eager to prove himself on the frontlines of battle against the Daemons. When paired with the legendary Ilina warrior Melisande, he expects the fierce beauty to quickly fall under the spell of his quite considerable charm. Instead, he finds himself spellbound by a woman who’s his match in every way.

Beneath Melisande’s brittle exterior lies centuries of pain and a violent hatred of all shape-shifters—a hatred that slowly crumbles after she and Fox are caught in a deadly and cunning Mage trap and she glimpses a surprising depth in her far-too-seductive partner. Their survival demands unconditional trust—and their salvation surrender to a wild, untamed love.

Kieran’s dream comes true and he becomes Fox, a man with the drive of a superhero, sexy, smart, and landed with an almost impossible task of fighting true evil. The kicker comes from the fact that all is not as it appears. For this story to have the most impact, a reader would have read a couple of the previous books in the series that dealt with the demise of the previous men known as Fox. Only by having a bit of background will the total impact of the author’s deviousness be completely revealed and understood. It’s a jaw dropper.

At first I was thrilled for the hero. Ms. Palmer effectively set up the tone of the story right from the start, but even that doesn’t come close to the mayhem and drama that comes later. Poor Fox. Not only does his dream vocation turn dark and murky but he gets the shock of his life when Melisande, the reluctant heroine, mists in. It’s instant emotional conflict and the chase is on. Thing is, Melisande doesn’t want to be chased. In fact she wants nothing whatsoever to do with him. So what’s a guy to do?

What Fox has to go through to win the trust and love of the very resistant heroine is nothing short of heroism. The process includes tons of action with tight and vivid writing that made me short of breath from heightened adrenaline. Surprises and shocks, twists and turns, lows so dark they were a torment to read and highs so lofty they made me dizzy, all pepper the novel making it a true page flipper.

Melisande is a tortured heroine both figuratively and literally. At points it was hard to read about her journey. It culminated in a stunning reveal that blew me away. Ms. Palmer managed to put my feelings through the wringer as the heroine reeled from the ramifications of the truths of what really happened to her. I never saw it coming and it was a great and effective emotional conflict. I liked her courage, her feistiness, her passion once she let go, and I was impressed with her gut-wrenching choice to apologize. That scene was beautifully written and powerful. In previous books, she wasn’t a very nice person. In A Love Untamed a reader finds out why and I guarantee she is a heroine worth caring about. I ended up liking her a lot.

There are old favorites helping Fox save the day but there are new characters that complicate the plot and conflict. The saddest is what happens to Fox’s friend. I hope somehow he can be saved.

Ms. Palmer also threw in a very interesting hook for another feral warrior’s story that may or may not have closure anytime soon. He may, but only the author knows. What I found so interesting was how the author left it – can he be saved? Did the person he sought really do what I thought, and did it end the way it did as written or is there a new curve in the fight against evil that is just tantalizingly out of reach? Even after reading the book I’m still asking myself these questions. Can you say “auto-buy”??

It’s not all frantic searching and fighting action. There are moments of humor, of clever writing that truly entertains and of course, searing, page steaming passion between Fox and Melisande that made this reader sigh in pleasure. Fox really does know his way around a woman’s body. ::swoon::

A Love Untamed is a sure pleaser for fans of this fantastic and exciting series. The characters have their issues and inner emotional conflicts. Their trials provide the impetus for meeting challenges head on, making this novel intense, entertaining and amazing as they rise above the chaos and deliver justice, swift and true. The best part is the culmination of everything they survived to enjoy their happy ever after. Fox and Melisande’s love was tested in fire in this story and I have every confidence that it will be enduring and strong mostly due to this romance being so well written. It’s a keeper.