Our Week in Books – Week 19, 2013

 Tracey

Having had a very expensive trip to New York with lots of shopping I surprisingly found little time for reading! We were so exhausted from all the walking! So what have I read in the week since getting back?

I started reading Ambersley by Amy Atwell on the plane but couldn’t really get into it – probably just too tired. I left it for a bit and didn’t go back to it until much later in the week, having read other books in between. It started off a bit slow and I struggled with the concept of how I knew the book would ultimately end; that the child and grown man we see interacting together for the first third of the book, then end up together in the girl’s adulthood. I know age gaps in this period of history are not uncommon but it just felt a bit weird, and I think it’s probably another reason why I didnt finish it in one go. Having said that, when I did go back to it and we got past childhood stage, the story picked up pace and I ended up enjoying the romance. We were introduced to various characters who get their own story later on and I will probably look to read them at some point – 3 stars for me.

I was clearly in the mood for some more historical romance and picked up His Wicked Kiss by Gaelen Foley. This is the seventh book in the Knight Miscellany series and brings home the mysterious Lord Jack Knight who in previous books had only been mentioned in passing. It was another enjoyable story in the series and has a good plot and romance, although Eden Farraday did get on my nerves a bit at times. You do not need to have read the series previously to know what is going on but as we get reintroduced to the characters and their partners from those books, it is nice to have the background info. This could definitely stand alone though – 3.5 stars

And yet more historical romance! Slightly Shady by Amanda quick was my next read. A light historical romantic suspense which was a quick easy read. I again found the heroine to be a bit of a pain in the butt at times – I don’t know what is up with me this week! The suspense aspect felt more believable than the romance for me, but overall I enjoyed the story – 3 stars.

A Bite to Remember by Lynsay sands was next and was a return for me to the world of the Argeneau vampires. This book focuses on Vincent and Jackie Morrissey (a mortal PI who knows all about their world). As with all the books in this series this was very good. I always love the Argeneau men and Vincent is no exception. Marguerite, the interfering matriarch of the Argeneau’s, features heavily in this book as well and I love her and her interference. This can easily stand alone if you have not read any of the others but why start with this one – go get the first one and work your way through! – 4 stars

I am currently reading Hunter by Jacquelyn Frank and loving it, in fact I feel the need to get back to it – review to come in the next couple of weeks 🙂

 Grete

Well my reading rate has been down again but I have a good excuse – I’m in the process of giving up smoking!  It’s a very weird thing but I’m having to learn how to do things without an ever present cigarette in my hand – everything still feels a bit wrong but I’m getting there 🙂  So lets see what I’ve read over the last two weeks (including while a certain review partner was off gallivanting in NYC!)

I re-read Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson and it was as entertaining as the first time.  Jessica McClain is a great character and I love her starting story!  I went straight into book two, Hot Blooded and actually was a bit disappointed with it.  It was still enjoyable but it seemed to turn into a bit of a slog towards the end.  Full reviews are coming, anyway.

I had to wait my turn to read The City by Stella Gemmell as Tony got there first – he did an excellent review which can be found here.  I thought I might have a slightly different opinion to him as a female reader but actually, I agree with him completely – 4 stars for me too.

I then picked up a recently arrived book which had me intrigued from the moment I first heard about it – The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty.  I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it!  You can read my full review here

My fantasy nose was twitching again so I picked up The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham.  This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages and as book three is sitting there looking at me imploringly, it was incentive enough.  Full review is coming but suffice to say it’s a fantasy on an epic scale with the sense of a full world and history behind it.  I’m half way through The King’s Blood which is book two, and is proving a little slower going but still as enjoyable.

And there we are, all up to date!  Same time next week? 😉


Our Week in Books is a regular blog post from Tracey and Grete, catching up on everything they’ve read recently.

Affair

 Charlotte Arkendale needed a new ‘man of affairs’ and a bodyguard. Into her life comes Baxter St Ives, the bastard son of an Earl, who is investigating Charlotte as a possible blackmailer and murderer. After all no one really knows where her income comes from. Baxter is a chemist not a fighter and believes everything can be worked through by remaining in control and with logic, what he doesn’t anticipate is his loss of control when it comes to Charlotte.

It soon becomes apparent that dark forces are conspiring against the two of them in a deadly game, can they figure out the puzzle before anyone else gets hurt?

I really loved this book from the first page and I was drawn straight into the story and stayed gripped throughout. I am not convinced it was historically accurate but to be honest the story was so good I didn’t care. There were lots of references to science but not in too much depth I am pleased to say – I want a romance not a chemistry lesson.

Baxter had a habit of saying ‘bloody hell’ a lot, even in the presence of ladies – definitely not the done thing. Although I have to say Baxter is really not your typical gentleman, he reminded me a bit of Clark Kent  – mild, unassuming and a bit geeky but when those glasses came off, wham he could really let loose! His tendency to see everything logically made for some interesting conversations with Charlotte, particularly with matters of the heart but I was totally in love with him.

Charlotte seems to have no fear which I found hard to believe at times, particularly as she has a younger sister relying on her. She was bossy and could be irritating at times but underneath it all she is just an insecure woman struggling with unfamiliar feelings.

The story focused a lot on the murder mystery angle and not so much on the romance, but you always know it will end happily ever after. The villain was obvious to the reader from the start but it took our protagonists a while to join the dots, by which time other innocent people had been caught up in his plans. The information about mesmerism was interesting and added another dimension to the story.

This was a great read, enjoyable, witty at times and the nerd triumphs – as a bit of a nerd myself that makes the story even better!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Amanda Quick
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Crystal gardens

 Evangeline Ames has escaped from London to recover from a recent attack and get some inspiration for her writing. Having some psychic abilities, she is drawn to the town of Little Dixby, where paranormal energy leaches from the nearby Crystal gardens. When circumstances force her into the Crystal Gardens at night, the owner Lucas Sebastien cannot ignore her and the danger she faces. Having some psychic ability himself he recognises it in Evangeline and finds himself intrigued and drawn to her in a way he has never been to any woman before.

I have never read anything by Jayne Ann Krentz before in any of her guises (I believe she writes as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle too) but I enjoyed this one as it combines my three favourite genres – history, romance and paranormal, whats not to like? Being set in Victorian England made a nice change for me as the historical novels I usually read are set earlier than this. There was not as much historical description as I would have liked, but there was enough to get an idea of how things would have been.

The story started with a bang – no gentle lead in, and as such it grabbed me immediately. The author was also quite clever with how much she gave away; I actually had to check this was not the middle of a series as initially it felt like I had missed huge chunks which would have been described in a previous book. It soon became clear however, that this was Krentz’s way of making sure I did not put the book down, because I needed to know the answers! As the story unravelled we gained those answers but maybe not in as much detail as I would have liked.

While the main characters had psychic abilities, there were no paranormal creatures like vampires and werewolves. There was of course suspicion surrounding psychics which I imagine was very appropriate to the time period, but I did find it strange that neither character delved into the others abilities more, and also that the other members of the village seemed to accept it.

Lucas and Evangeline were likeable characters, Lucas clearly had a darker side and it would have been nice to have seen this teased out a bit more but we did gain enough insight into his past to get the gist. This book was much more about the romance than the sex – but never fear there was a small dose of sex to whet your appetite!

In summary an enjoyable story with a good dose of romance and mystery, I would have liked more detail and depth to both the characters and the story, but this may well have lengthened the book to the detriment of the fast paced plot. As it is, it is easy to read, the plot is not so complicated that your brain hurts but it has enough facets to keep you interested.

This is the first in a new series and I will definitely be looking to read the next ones.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

 

Fired Up

Jack Winters is a direct descendant of Nicholas Winters, infamous obsession driven Alchemist.  Believing himself to be the recipient of the Winters family curse, Jack needs to find his ancestor’s lamp and a woman who is a strong enough Dreamlight reader.   Those two things could be the only way to save him from insanity and death.  Chloe Harper tries to stay under the radar of the Arcane Society, like most in her large and diverse family but finds herself caught up when she is hired by Jack for two things.  To find the Burning Lamp and with her dreamlight talent, help save him from the curse.  Soon on the trail, she finds that they are trying to evade the Nightshade organisation as well as the Arcane Society and will have to make a choice who to trust.

Fired Up technically follows on from Running Hot but focusses on two new characters.  I do like it when authors do this, it makes their world seem so much bigger.  I thought it was a very nice touch that Grace and Luther were mentioned in passing so I got to see that they were doing well.

The story in Fired Up was just as engaging as Running Hot and I loved the new characters of Jack and Chloe.  They worked really well together and the tension between them was built right from the start as a small spark of possibility.  I also liked that both of them were competent and confident, no ‘struggling weak heroine needs rescuing by big strong man’ and more than a match for each other. It felt like there was a slightly larger cast of minor characters but they didn’t feel minor when they appeared, they were just as compelling and well rounded as the main cast.

The character who I should have mentioned before that links these two books together, is Fallon Jones.  He’s the head of the J&J detective agency that works for the Arcane Society,  and at first I thought the story was going to be leading in a different direction for him but I am glad it didn’t turn out to be so, as he’s a great character.  His little event at the end made me laugh and want to applaud, and I do hope that story will be told soon.

Coming into the series late hasn’t been much of a hindrance and other than missing references to brief mentions of history, these books can easily be read out of sequence.   I also didn’t realise that Jayne Ann Krentz has used the Arcane Society in stories from historical fiction, to modern and then to futuristic under different pen names.  She writes as Amanda Quick for the historicals, Jayne Castle as the futuristic ones and of course as Jayne Ann Krentz for these excellent modern stories.  I definitely need to catch up on those!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)