Fanciful Reader

a book blog about romance and more. . .

Month: May, 2011

The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn

The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Mira (Harlequin)

The latest book in the Lady Julia Grey series has the protagonists return to London after their Mediterranean honeymoon and stop in India in Dark Road to Darjeeling. Nicolas Brisbane is helping Lady Julia’s brother, Bellmont investigate a matter that they’re trying to keep from her. Believing that Brisbane is in some kind of trouble, Julia follows him to a spiritualist’s headquarters masquerading as a man. But of course Brisbane sees through her disguise and immediately tries to protect her from the danger he knows is lurking at the Spirit Club. After the seance, the medium dies in her room with Brisbane and Julia as the witnesses.

The killer, it seems, was one of those present at the seance. Brisbane reluctantly lets
Julia help with the investigation. The killer begins to threaten the Brisbanes. When the
threats escalates from blackmail letters to their personal safety, they flee to the gypsy
encampment on Hampstead Heath. The conclusion is thrilling and well thought out, and leaves the reader anxious for the next book in the series.

I enjoyed this book very much, and was really glad for the characters to return to London. The story was fast-paced and gripping. As someone who grew up reading Gothic romances, I liked the paranormal elements in the story. I also enjoyed the scenes at the gypsy camp–and especially Brisbane’s delightfully risque granny.

A continued source of conflict between Lady Julia and Nicholas is that she wants to help in his investigations, while he wants to protect her, and keep both of them shielded from his clairvoyant visions. Lady Julia’s efforts to help her husband verge on the ridiculous sometimes, like her experiments with gunpowder, and Brisbane often has to step in to save her from herself. Though this is sometimes frustrating for me as a reader, I think it’s also necessary to keep the story moving and provide some contrast to the couple’s frequent amorous pursuits. Though my dear husband would no doubt object, I wouldn’t mind having a Nicolas Brisbane of my own!

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

Waiting on Wednesday 5/25: Crossed

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is Crossed by Ally Condie. I read the first in the series, Matched in about a day–I just couldn’t put it down!

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

What about you? Have you read Matched? What are you looking forward to reading?

Waiting on Wednesday 5/18: Darkness at Dawn

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

There are so many books that I’m looking forward to reading, yet every week I draw a blank when it comes to the WoW post. It must be due to the midweek slump. Anyhow, I picked Darkness at Dawn by Elizabeth Jennings from my list of Kindle pre-orders.

Nobody knows better than Lucy Merritt what duty can cost. Her CIA operative parents gave their lives for a mission in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nhala, and as a result, Lucy was determined to make a safe and comfortable life for herself, becoming an expert restorer of manuscripts.

Captain Mike Shafer, Tenth Mountain Division, US Army, is dedicated to keeping his country safe. Intel from a dead CIA operative in Nhala points to a deadly threat that could wipe out entire populations. When Lucy is called to Nhala to restore the manuscript of an ancient prophesy, it’s his chance to stop the threat cold. He is ready and willing to put himself on the firing line—only not with the beautiful woman who’s been assigned to him. No matter how smart she is, she’s a tempting distraction.

Now Mike and Lucy must learn to work together to stop this global threat. Mike thought he understood courage, but when she does the bravest thing he’s ever seen, he vows to carry a badly wounded Lucy across a frozen wasteland to save this magnificent woman—and the world.

I always find myself drawn to romantic suspense even though I don’t read very much of it. I can’t tell you why this is, especially because I like action movies and TV thrillers–for instance my husband and I have been watching MI-5 on Netflix instant play.

What about you? Do you like romantic suspense or suspense novels in general? Or are there any genres you think you should like but don’t?

TBR Challenge 2011: Walk on the Wild Side

This month’s theme for the TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian is “marriage of convenience.”
I chose Walk on the Wild Side by Natalie Anderson. While the h/h don’t get married in the book there is an accidental pregnancy that to my mind is similar to the “marriage of convenience.”
Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

A fling with sinfully hot champion snowboarder Jack Greene isn’t Kelsi Reid’s normal behavior…but one glimpse of his wicked eyes has Kelsi throwing caution to the deep blue sea (along with her clothes!). After all, who better to go crazy with than a man who deserves a gold medal for his prowess on the slopes and in the bedroom…?

Then Kelsi crashes down with a terrifying bump—of the baby kind. They couldn’t be worse matched—Jack is Mr. Right-Now, while Kelsi craves stability. But it’s hard to keep your feet on the ground once you’ve met the man who turns your world upside down….

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I wouldn’t call it an “opposites attract” story in terms of personality but Jack and Kelsi definitely have incompatible lifestyles to begin with. Kelsi is a quirky character who enjoys wearing exotic color contacts to match her mood and wears long skirts partly to cover her extremely pale skin. Not what I think of as the typical Harlequin Presents heroine! Of course this book is in the HP Extra line which is known for a more modern feel.

Kelsi also has a very unique decorating style, and Jack allows her to have input into the redesign of her apartment when he purchases the whole building after discovering she’s pregnant. Yes, that’s one of those rich alpha-hero grand gestures that seems over the top but works well in Harlequin Presents land.

It was a very sweet story overall and I thought the author did great job of telling the story within a short word count. Though in real life I think babies are not that romantic, I would have liked to see a brief epilogue after Kelsi and Jack are married and have had the baby.

What about you? Do you like epilogues in romance novels, especially those involving babies?

Seduction and Scandal by Charlotte Featherstone

Seduction and Scandal is the first in The Brethren Guardians series of Victorian-set historical romances with mild paranormal elements. The series is based on a secret society whose task is to protect three artifacts that were brought to England during the Crusades. While some readers complain about the overuse of secret societies involving ancient artifacts in historical romances, I can’t get enough of them.

The heroine, Isabella Fairmont, has been saved from a life of poverty that was brought on by her mother’s indiscretions. Living in comfort with the family of her cousin, Lucy, she has more freedom and luxury to write stories such as the one that opens the book–a gothic romance in which the heroine is being pursued by Death.

At a ball during her first season, Isabella dances with the enigmatic Earl of Black. He begins pursuing her and they are drawn together despite the fact that Isabella is being courted by another man–the staid archaeologist Wendell Knighton. Because marrying for love and passion led her mother to poverty, Isabella resists her feelings for the Earl of Black. Isabella and Lucy are drawn into a mystery involving Wendell Knighton, the Brethren Guardians, and another secret society, the House of Orpheus.

As the story unfolds, Isabella and the Earl of Black find out why they are drawn together and why the face of Death in Isabella’s book resembles him so much. The conclusion of the book left me eager to read the next in the series, Pride and Passion.

I received an eARC of Seduction of Scandal from Netgalley, and have also preordered a print copy to share with friends.

Waiting on Wednesday 5/11: Lady of Seduction

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week, I chose Lady of Seduction by Laurel McKee. I already have a copy of this book on my Kindle that I got from the publisher via Netgalley. The official release date is May 31st.

It’s a mad, ill-advised journey that leads the usually sensible Lady Caroline Blacknall to the legendary isle of Muirin Inish, off the windswept coast of Ireland. Even so, she doesn’t expect to find herself shipwrecked and then rescued by a man she believed she would never see again. A man who, long ago, held her life in his hands . . . and with it, her heart.

Reformed rake Sir Grant Dunmore knew he could never forget the beautiful woman he once endangered nor will he ever forgive himself. But history seems doomed to repeat itself, for as long as Caroline stays on the island, she is trapped in a secret plot that could forever free Ireland-or turn deadly for all. And yet, now that she is in his arms again, how can he dream of ever letting her go?

I have the first two books in the Daughters of Erin series in my TBR pile as well. I’m especially looking forward to these because I read and enjoyed a few Harlequin Historicals by Amanda McCabe (aka Laurel McKee) but they were just not long enough! Also, though you wouldn’t guess at all from the cover, Lady of Seduction is a gothic romance. This is one of my favorite subgenres and it seems like there aren’t that many published these days.

From what I’ve read, (about 25% so far) Lady of Seduction works well as a standalone book. Also I feel that it doesn’t spoil the first two books in the series with a long involved info dump. Because of the risk of spoiling earlier books in a series, I prefer to read even loosely connected series books in order.

What about you? What book are you waiting for and how do you feel about reading series books in order?

Waiting on Wednesday 5/4: Before the Witches

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

For this week’s post, I chose Before the Witches by Karina Cooper.

In America, they didn’t care about witches. But all that was about to change.

Katya Zhuvova fled a country that feared her gifts, but her escape to Seattle left her at the mercy of a ruthless man. With no one left to turn to, Katya hatches a desperate escape plan. Undercover Detective Nigel Ferris is determined to bring down a prostitution ring, whatever the cost. In order to the get answers he needs, he attempts to win the trust of one of the prostitutes involved—but one look at the deceptively sultry Katya and the cool, objective cop disappears. Before either can put their plans into place, Mother Nature shrugs: a cataclysm rocks Seattle, and life is turned upside down.

Brought together by chance, Nigel and Katya are in the fight for their lives. Surrounded by death and fear, shattered by immeasurable loss, they have only a bond forged in fire to cling to as they struggle to survive in a world gone straight to hell.

Although I don’t read that many paranormals, my recent favorites have been about witches, such as 666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce. I’ve also started A Discovery of Witches but am intimidated by the length!

What about you? If you read paranormals do you have a favorite theme?

Library Loot: The May Day Edition

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Marg and Claire to share the books you’ve gotten from the library.

Here’s what I picked up at the library this week:

Kathy Smith’s lift weights to lose weight by…Kathy Smith

The latehomecomer : a Hmong family memoir by Kao Kalia Yang

The making of a duchess
by Shana Galen

A natural history of the romance novel
by Pamela Regis

The new Sonoma diet : a simple, healthy, more delicious way to live : trimmer waist, more energy in just 10 days
by Connie Gutterson

Three cups of tea–one man’s journey to change the world — one child at a time by Sarah L. Thomson (this is the young reader’s edition)

The time-traveling fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

The water wars by Cameron Stracher

I also checked out the following ebooks:

Sex, Lies, and Online Dating
by Rachel Gibson

Quicksilver by Amanda Quick

What about you? What did you pick up from the library this week, and which of these books are you most looking forward to reading? For me that would be The Time-Traveling Fashionista. This looks like it will be just plain fun and very different from the majority of YA paranormals!