* * * * * * 6 of 7 stars
I was very much pleased with the opportunity to review The Devilish Duke by Maddison Michaels. It has been a while since I delved into a historical, but have to admit that she has tempted me to re-explore some of my all-time favorites in the near future, because, let’s face it, sometimes you just have to. The basic plot for the Devilish Duke boils down to two people of “proper” standing agreeing to a marriage of convenience, of sorts, only to , naturally, totally fall for each other. A very familiar theme, for sure, but brought with some delightful twists and turns in this author’s debut novel.
The characters: I liked both Sophie and Devlin a lot. She had spunk and was independent, and not in an annoying way as to make her unlikable—this happens a lot in modern-day historicals, much to my regret. But not with Sophie, I enjoyed her. Devlin. Lovely duke who was far more reasonable than the average in romances set in the same era. I liked that too. Nothing frustrates me more than some high-handed hero who makes you want to bash him in the head because he’s being so unreasonable, and Devlin was definitely not that. In one word, they were both lovely and wonderful to get to know.
The villain: Michaels took me by surprise with that one. I could have sworn it was someone else for quite some time, and not many authors manage to throw me for a curve like that. Kudos. He was properly psycho and dealt with in a satisfying fashion.
The plot: Basic and straightforward, which suits the rest of the story, since the most important bit is the two protagonists falling hard and fast for each other, naturally. Very nice.
End conclusion: Personally, I look forward to the further development of this author. She could very well grow to be one of the big ones, competing with our old favorites like Quick and Garwood. Definitely a read to recommend for any romance reader, but especially historical lovers. Happy reading.
Deadalus, by Matt Verish
* * * * * 5 of 7 Stars
Plot: A space “pirate crew” of sorts, trying to get by in a hostile universe where enemies lurk everywhere.
An old theme but cleverly brought with believable characters. Clearly “Daedalus” by Matt Verish was a part two in a series, but it worked well enough as a stand alone not to frustrate the reader (me). There were enough mentions of previous events that were intriguing in such a way that curiosity is sparked to read what went on before. A definite plus in a series.
Pacing-wise, I would have liked to see a bit more speed at the beginning, and less haste at the end, though. I would have liked to read more about the alien planet described, and the ensuing race against time while the hero had to try to save the day, but it didn’t detract from the overall tale. I enjoyed it!
Protagonists: The fearless Captain Musgrave was funny and likeable, although he was hinted to being ruthless, which I didn’t really notice until I was a third into the story, and even then it was a single event. This seemed somewhat out of place to me, but this might be due to not knowing the previous story.
Camaraderie between the main character was there, and yet wasn’t. I was often left to wonder if they could co-exist...but again that might be due to the same problem of this being a sequel. There was definitely history there, which explained the friction. Regardless I rooted for them all, so apparently it didn’t matter as much as I would have thought.
Romance: There is some. Not as in ROMANTIC romance, but a love interest. Which was sweet, and added to the story, despite the “interest” being a bit too unreadable for her own good. I would have liked to discover more about her motivation and such, but that is the “romance reader” in me, I know, and perhaps not the thing for this kind of story.
Overall impression: A fun ride that kept my attention, entertained me, and made me want to turn the next page to see what would happen. All great ingredients for a good book, I would say. Definitely a “must-read” for space opera fans, but also an interesting diversion for the average reader.
The Millionaire Makeover, by Naima Simone
* * * * * * 6 of 7 Stars
Wonderful, just wonderful. With well-written prose and a clear-cut plot aimed primarily on romance, I found the The Millionaire Makeover a pleasure to read. Simone’s novel sure reminded me of just why I always love to read romances, and of all the greats that used to be my favorites. Much to my pleasure. Simply said, the story is about youthful love becoming something bigger and better, despite the hero’s efforts to maintain his distance from his best friend’s sister, the woman he’s sworn to stay away from.
Characters: Khloe was a likeable heroine whom I really enjoyed as she fought her youthful infatuation, even as it turned into real, lasting love…almost against her will. She was sweet and honest, with enough spunk to keep her interesting as I got to know her, and she gets to know herself. The hero Niall…oh my. At the start a bit of a man-slut, before Khloe sort of ruined him. He’s got a good heart though, loads of strength hiding a core of adorable insecurities. And, of course, stamina. *wink * I enjoyed them both tremendously.
Plot: Strong, well put together and it works well. In truth this is about two characters growing up, blossoming and becoming stronger as they face their demons and find each other. High heat levels, but also done in such a way that it added to the intensity of the emotional trip the characters were on.
End conclusion: I loved it. The whole thing. And definitely recommend it to all romance lovers.
Killer Curves (Guarding her body #2), by Naima Simone
* * * * * * 6 of 7 Stars
I recently had the opportunity to read, and review Simone’s novel and boy am I happy I got the chance. Having read it, I have to say: “Oh my, oh my, oh my.” The overall story: Our slightly “overweight” heroine (or so the nasty ex says, grrr) is being harassed by an unknown assailant, and thus is forced to take bodyguard help of a friend’s friend, who, naturally finds her gorgeously lush…as he should! A familiar formula, and wonderfully executed. Often when there is a supposed overweight heroine there is some serious harping about the issue in a way that I get annoyed about what seems the author’s self-therapy of getting over weight issues. This was NOT the case in Simone’s romance. In fact, it was, from the hero’s perspective anyway, an actual non-issue, which made me like, and believe it. Kudos.
Characters: I liked Sloane a lot. She was passionate about her dreams, likable, brave and healthy of mind. Which is always a plus…especially for a heroine dealing with…well, a lot carp. Her male counterpart, Ciaran, is a manly man (all strength and reliability, yummy), with a sense of ethics that get him into trouble while facing the temptation that is our heroine. He’s got some issues, but who hasn’t, that make him close to adorable. What it boils down to, he’s a good guy, and that’s what matters, especially in romance. Secondary characters were similarly interesting making me have to read the other book in the series, as well. Darn it!
Plot: Relatively straightforward, and secondary to the romance, of course. This is after all a story about two people finding each other and then overcoming all the hurdles in their path before reaching their happy ending. Very satisfactory! More than enough suspense to keep you guessing straight to the end about who did what and why, so it added extra flavor to the already spicy mix.
Sex: Yes. Yes there was that!…ergo the “Oh my,” earlier on. Plenty of it, in full Technicolor, but done in a way that it wasn’t in the least gratuitous. I’ve read my share, but I blushed a time or two. Hah. Not smart to read on a bus…at least, not if you’re prone to blushing. *wink*
End conclusion: A perfect blend of romance, heat, sweetness, and suspense. I will be recommending this one to romance readers.
Vulnerable, by Amy Lane
* * * * * * 6 of 7 Stars
Plot: A young woman discovers herself, her strength and her weakness in a world of Fairies, vampires and everything supernatural. As one comes to expect from Lane, the story is well-written, chockfull of emotion, and a perilous journey into adulthood.
Characters: Corrie is your typical Goth Teen who is struggling hard for the future she envisions for herself before she falls in love. She’s ambitious, tough, and incredibly sweet. You can’t help but like her. Considering that Adrian, the lead vampire in the story is similarly likable, and the man of her dreams, only makes things better. Add Green, the all-powerful, kind elfin king, and you’ve got great mix of characters as they fight for their little place in the big wide world.
The villain: Is quite invisible at the beginning, but slowly as we go deeper into the story, suspenseful little hints are inserted here and there until the bomb is dropped. Well done! Good depth, well built, and somewhat horrible as to the reasons behind his evilness.
Romance: Personally, I am not into threesome relationships, or the “free sex” scene. It doesn’t do anything for me. I just keep thinking there is one person too many here, no matter that it is tastefully brought, described in eloquent beauty, and touchingly sweet in all the right places. It’s not tacky, it fits the story and the characters’ emotions are deep-felt, touching and absolutely “real”. So, I can only say, even if you aren’t into relationships that have more than two people in it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed when it comes to “Vulnerable”. The emotional content is 3D in all the ways that count.
Conclusion: Lane wrote a beautiful beginning of a saga. Likeable characters, intricate storytelling, and a good start of a bright new world. Definitely worth reading!
Amy Lane has two kids in college, two gradeschoolers in soccer, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance--and if you accidentally make eye contact, she'll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She'll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.