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Showing posts from 2019

Review: The Lady and the Highwayman

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The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun read. An assertive heroine who knows what she wants, a hero who's climbed up out of the gutter but isn't ashamed to show his non-toff roots, and a delightful book-within-a-book tale featuring two "penny dreadfuls"...which happen to have been written by the H&H.

Add a secret society of action hero authors(!) and you've got the makings of a snappy and fun romance novel with excitement, intrigue, and a delightful ending. In addition, it was a traditional historical in the sense that there was no overt sexual activity, making it accessible to all readers who love a HEA. There's nothing wrong with adding a touch of sweetness to one's spicy reading list!

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Review: The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

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The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While being a sister is forever, it's not always easy.. The Shergill Sisters have had their share of fighting and drama, but now they're in India to follow their mother's dying wish of a pilgrimage to Sikh shrines and an opportunity for the women to bond again.

This is a bittersweet tale of tradition at war with individual needs, and a desire to move beyond the restrictions of one's upbringing and life events. The adventures of the sisters will resonate with anyone who's had to navigate difficult family issues and move into full adulthood, while dealing with the traumas and expectations of one's past. At the end of the day though it's truly about the mighty bonds of sisterhood and the healing power of that love.

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Review: Pride and Prometheus

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Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a weirdly engrossing mashup of two nearly contemporary novels, Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (1818) and characters, specifically, Mary Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice (1797). It especially makes sense when you have Mary as a grown-up in her 30's, one who recognizes her winceworthy missteps as a stuffy, moralistic adolescent.

Mary has matured into a thoughtful woman, still with a strong moral core, but also with a keen eye for the human condition. She also reads widely and has a special interest in natural philosophy, so when her path crosses that of Victor Frankenstein...well, let's just say I was very pleased I'd re-read the original Frankenstein in 2018 in celebration of its publication anniversary.

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Review: The Nickel Boys

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The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dozier School For Boys is the site of a shameful period in Florida's history, and the abuses and horror stories are still being uncovered with each gravesite that's revealed, each survivor's tale. Colson Whitehead, author of the fabulous and Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Underground Railroad gives us a fictionalized Dozier in the Nickel School, and a tale that's deeply tragic and also life-affirming.

I couldn't turn away from this engrossing book despite its bleak reflection of Jim Crow Florida and the abuses of a penal system rife with corruption, crime and cronyism. It's a searing story beautifully told.

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Review: The Women of the Copper Country

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The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is fitting and appropriate to read this moving novel on Labor Day weekend, a time when we celebrate the contributions of the American worker. The Women of the Copper Country is set in Michigan at the beginning of the 20th c., in the copper mines near Lake Superior. This book deals with the struggle between the bosses and the laborers, the struggle for a living wage and dignity vs. profits and greed epitomized by automation and reduction of the workforce.

But the true focus of the novel, as the title says, is on the women, the unsung heroines who wanted "bread and roses". They marched and sang, but they also worked from before dawn until after dusk. Even when the men and the mines were idle, the women still had to care for children and cook supper and do the laundry and try to organize against injustice. They are the true leaders and the ones who bring change.

Mary Russell has once aga…

Review: Who Slays the Wicked

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Who Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stayed up past my bedtime to find out whodunnit. There wasn't a lack of suspects--everyone wanted this man dead and plenty had means and opportunity, as well as motive. We also learned a little more about Sebastian's family, Hero's investigative work revealed some new information, and evolving events on the world stage offer more opportunities in the future for this excellent Regency mystery series. I highly recommend it, starting with the first book to fully enjoy the characters.

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Review: Protect the Prince

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Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This second Crown of Shards novel has Evie (Queen Everleigh) adjusting to life on the throne and learning about her own powers, including the mystery of why she's a Winter Queen. A trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari does not start well, not surprising since a slew of Andvarian royals were slaughtered in Evie's land of Bellona. It's also complicated by her love for Lucas Sullivan, the (acknowledged) bastard son of the King of Andarvi. She needs to make a politically advantageous marriage and Lucas brings nothing to the table except his love for Evie.

I'm enjoying this series and Estep's writing style and I'm looking forward to the next adventure for Evie, the gladiator queen.

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Review: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder

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A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun, cozy romance, the second in the Countess of Harleigh Victorian-era mysteries. Frances is a widowed countess whose American money led to a loveless marriage with her late, unlamented husband. Now living on her own (more or less--her modest London residence always seems to be full of people) she finds she has a talent for sleuthing out information and solving crimes. Her hunky next door neighbor, a barrister and "fixer" for the powerful aids her, and it's obvious to everyone that he also has a thing for her.

I was intrigued by the mystery and didn't figure out whodunnit until the end, my favorite kind of cozy. I hope there will be more Countess of Harleigh mysteries!

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Review: The Bride Test

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was so wonderfully entertaining I read it through in one afternoon. Khai Diep doesn't feel things like other people do and he's all too aware that he's viewed as strange and different, including by members of his own family. His mother travels to Viet Nam to try and find a wife for her son and comes back with "Esme" Tran, a young woman who's willing to do almost anything to build a better life for herself and her young daughter.

The characters click in the most interesting ways and the sexual tension between them is steamy. How Esme pulls Khai out of his isolation and how Khai responds to her is a delight. I can't wait to read more from Ms. Hoang, a true rising star in contemporary romance.

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Review: Ayesha at Last

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Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-European/Non-Anglo romances are having a moment and I love this trend. I want to mix my reading of Regency and traditional romance historicals with new material and new characters. We're seeing a surge in popularity of TV shows like Shtisel and You'll Always be My Maybe on Netflix, films and books like Crazy Rich Asians, and now, Ayesha At Last.

Ayesha at Last is a lovely addition to my booklist. The characters had the sort of problems modern readers can relate to--paying the bills, meeting personal and professional goals, dealing with family, and finding a partner. At the same time, they're navigating being Muslim in the Western and largely non-Muslim community of Toronto and dealing with the choices involved as immigrants and first generation Canadians.

I don't believe the book benefited from comparisons to Pride and Prejudice. I would rather have judged it solely on its own merits while I was re…

Review: Red, White & Royal Blue

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all, one thing really bothered me: Henry is referred to as "The Prince of Wales" but since his brother Philip is first in line to inherit, Henry's the spare, not the heir. He can be addressed as Prince Henry or HRH (His Royal Highness) but he's not the prince of anything.

Having gotten that off my chest, I really enjoyed this M/M romance. Henry and Alex are wonderfully suited for each other, despite what Alex initially thinks, and watching them navigate the minefields of protocol and politics was a delight for any political junkie. The secondary characters are also superb and the entire story would make a delightful romcom.


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Review: A Brightness Long Ago

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A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

GGKay writes lyrical, evocative fantasy, the kind that immerses the reader in another time and place. His extensive knowledge of world history gives his work an air of authenticity, so that when one's reading about Sarantium or Tigana or El-Rassan, the reader is transported to lands very similar to our own historical sites--Byzantium, and Spain, and now in A Brightness Long Ago, Renaissance Italy.

For lovers of history and good fantasy, Kay is an author who always delivers a moving, thoughtful book full of the kind of detail that helps you know you're spending time with the best there is.



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Review: Someone to Honor

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Someone to Honor by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part of what I love about Mary Balogh is how she weaves character development across a series. Abigail Westcott started as a young lady from a good family but with nothing notable about her, until her world was upended when she learned she and her siblings were illegitimate. She's grown now, but still very much in her own way a stock character--Regency lady. Not a pirate, or a spy, or a smuggler, but a nice lady who enjoys knitting and embroidery.

Gil Bennington is a hero struggling with his own sense of self because he too is not only illegitimate, but also not a gentleman. He became a Lt. Col. in the British Army mostly rising through the ranks (his early commissions were purchased and that's a plot point) but he's never forgotten he doesn't belong in society.

How these two come together makes for a gentle story about people being good and doing the right thing, one of my favorite romance tropes.

But w…

Review: The Friend Zone

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The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I give a book five stars it's because I either couldn't put it down, or if I did put it down I couldn't wait to get back to the engrossing story. The Friend Zone caught me by surprise, but it was that kind of romance. At first I didn't think I'd be that wrapped-up in Kirsten and Josh's story after their "meet-cute" but as the relationship grew I came to appreciate that their obstacles were very real, not contrived, and it made their story one the reader could relate to.

I love being captivated by a new author's book and I'm looking forward to more from this talented storyteller.

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Review: Fix Her Up

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Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful (and hot!) summer romance about falling for the girl next door.

Georgette Castle's family doesn't take her seriously, and being a professional clown hasn't helped her force them to see her as an adult. I loved how Georgie embraced her inner clown, defying her family and choosing her own career path.

It takes Travis Ford, the hot former baseball player nicknamed "Two Bats", to help her move along to embracing all of her needs, her sexuality and her independence.

Travis has his own demons to overcome and while Georgie is on-board with his plans, he's the strongest obstacle to them finding their HEA.

This was a fun summer read and I look forward to reading more tales of the "Just Us League", the women who refuse to settle for anything less than what life has to offer them.

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Review: A Touch of Forever

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A Touch of Forever by Jo Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have few Westerns on my keeper shelves (it's mostly Regency), but one of the names you'd see multiple times is Jo Goodman. She writes wonderfully entertaining Westerns about people who would describe themselves as fairly ordinary, but their stories make them come alive. Town doctors and sheriffs and surveyors--ordinary people, the kind who'd welcome you in for a nice cup of tea and a freshly baked biscuit.

This third Cowboys of Colorado novel picks up the story of Lily Salt, mother of four and widow. Not the usual heroine material--she's older than the hero and in so many ways has much more life experience than Roen Shepard, but he's drawn to her, and when a nemesis from his past threatens him they become allies in a most unique fashion.

I loved this book and I would have given it five stars except for the abrupt POV shifts within a scene. I know "head-hopping" is more common, and maybe…

‘Fair Liberty's Call’—The War of 1812 and American Nationhood

“Jacob was an American who signed on with the Magpie after the war, and he called this ‘The Liberty Song.’” She hummed for a moment and then began to sing: —— “Come, join hand in hand, brave Americans all, And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty’s call; No tyrannous acts shall suppress your just claim, Or stain with dishonor America’s name.” —— Daphne sang two verses and the chorus before she realized Dr. Murray was staring at her, and the only way to describe the expression on his face—there was no way to describe the expression on his face. She’d never seen anything quite like it before.“There are more verses,” she said helpfully. “Miss Farnham!” He shook his head and started again. “Miss Farnham, that was the most treasonous piece of trash I have ever heard. Do you know what melody that is? Heart of Oak! Heart of Oak, Miss Farnham! I implore you, never, ever sing those lyrics around a navy man, for I could not answer for the consequences if you do.” --CASTAWAY DREAMS (High Seas,…

Review: Wolf Rain

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Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part of what I'm loving about this series is how Nalini Singh crafts her world building and character development. It's a true talent to be able to bring fresh material to a series that's 18 books in, and with Wolf Rain we get to see new characters with new abilities, but also revisit some of our favorites from previous books. I look forward to more Psy-changeling novels down the road, particularly because one or two maybe villains in this novel have the potential to carry their own stories.

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#FlagDay and a special offer!

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“You underestimate the will of the American people, Doctor,” he poked his finger in the air for emphasis. “When you push us, we push back. Hard. John Bull cannot bully America into surrendering now any more than you could 40 years ago. Have you already forgotten the lesson of Fort McHenry?”

He rummaged in his desk and pulled out a tattered newspaper, much folded and creased.

“My mother sent this to me with the letters, a newspaper from home. A Mr. Key wrote a poem about the battle, Doctor, titled ‘The Defence of Fort McHenry’. Look here–‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’. That’s America, Charley!"
---SEA CHANGE

June 14 is #FlagDay, the day the United States honors our nation's star spangled banner.  If you've got a flag, fly it proudly! And in honor of #FlagDay and #FathersDay, Sea Change (High Seas Book 1) is discounted through Monday. Click on the link to use the Smashwords coupon and enjoy special savings while you relax this weekend.


Review: When a Duchess Says I Do

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When a Duchess Says I Do by Grace Burrowes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book so much! Duncan Wentworth is my favorite kind of hero--thoughtful, caring, overlooked by many but appreciated by the heroine who sees him for what he truly is: A stand-up guy you can count on.

Matilda is perfectly matched for him. Her intelligence shines through and while Duncan sees her as a damsel-in-distress, she's so much more than that. Their conversations are like little lightbulbs flashing saying, "Hey, this person gets me!"

I'm new to Ms. Burrowes' books and I look forward to checking out her backlist and adding future releases to my wishlist.

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Review: The Rose

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The Rose by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a continuation of the story begun in The Red, set a generation later. Like The Red, The Rose uses a framing element to set up various erotic scenarios. While the first book was based on scenarios enacting famous paintings, The Rose is about Greek Mythology.

Both novels have an element of the fantastic to them and I enjoyed the tales as they unfolded. It's a good introduction to Reisz's writing for readers who've wondered about her Original Sinners series, but want to try her stories in smaller bites.

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Review: Tempest

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Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you want the finest in Western historical romance, look no further than Beverly Jenkins. Ms. Bev has produced another winner with Tempest, the latest romance in her Old West series.

Regan Carmichael sets off for Wyoming Territory to be the bride of widower Dr. Colton Lee and care for his young daughter Anna. Unlike many other mail-order brides in historical romances, Regan's not doing it out of desperation based on life's circumstances. On the contrary, she's college educated, wealthy, skilled at a variety of trades and doesn't need a man, but Dr. Lee's ad intrigued her.

For his part, Colton Lee's never met anyone like Regan and she quickly upends his world, first by shooting him (in her defense, she thought he was robbing the stagecoach) and not being at all demure and biddable like his late wife.

Clearly, the stuffy doctor and the liberated lady are made for each other, and Jenkins brings their …

Review: Tightrope

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Tightrope by Amanda Quick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this novel, as I do all Amanda Quick/JAK books, but there was one detail that kept me from giving it a higher rating--the hero and heroine in the 1930s not only didn't use any birth control, there was never any discussion of the the consequences of sex in an age when birth control devices and options were sketchy, at best. Even a quick pull-out to make the point that someone was thinking about it would have sat better with me.

Other than that it's a good mystery/romance with a "whodunnit" that will keep people guessing up until the end.

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Review: The Song of Achilles

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a bittersweet read since, of course, we all know the story of Achilles and how it ends. However, the relationship and love between Achilles and Patroclus, and later, the special relationship with Briseis, is refreshed by an author with a keen eye for bringing the classic characters of mythology alive.

Miller's Circe was one of the best books of the past year and I enjoyed this earlier effort.

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There was a rush of air overhead and Oliver ducked reflexively, avoiding a collision with a flashy green parrot swooping down to perch on St. Armand’s shoulder.
“Good evening, Roscoe. Who’s a good boy?”
The parrot ruffled his wings as Turnbull passed over a handful of nuts he’d pulled from a pouch at his waist.
“That’s a lovely par—”
“Don’t say it!” Turnbull and St. Armand said at the same time.
St. Armand reached up to scratch the bird under his beak. “This is Roscoe, the ship’s cat. Who’s a good kitty? Who’s a good boy?”
Oliver could deal with being shot at, beaten, evicted from a brothel, kidnapped by pirates, but there were some situations he was not willing to accept. “I realize I may not survive this voyage in one piece, but I must speak my mind, Captain. That is not a cat.”
“When I want your opinion, I will tell you so. Roscoe’s a prime mouser and a valuable member of the crew. Last I checked, your greatest value to me may be in selling you to the anatomists. Do not confuse our ship’…

Review: Exit Strategy

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Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This right here is why I love science fiction so much--human/non-human interaction! Fantastic action sequences! Deep moral and philosophical questions: (What does it mean to be human? And why would anyone aspire to be a meatsack anyway?) Snark! A mechanical entity who gives the Three Laws of Robotics the metal middle finger! And, best of all, primo writing, plotting and characterization.

I have been buttonholing everyone I know who's a science fiction fan and telling them to read The Murderbot Diaries. It's that good.

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Celebrating The Pirate's Secret Baby (High Seas #3) With Special Savings!

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Some years ago I had a villain who caught my imagination. Robert St. Armand wasn't just a pirate, he was a pirate with style and had far too high an opinion of himself and his success with women. Robert got his comeuppance in Castaway Dreams (High Seas #2) but just wouldn't leave me alone. He needed his own book.

How do you transform a villain into a hero? You throw a plot moppet and a puppy at him. If he catches them, he's capable of reform. Oh, and having a no-nonsense governess on hand to keep them all in line helps.

Five years ago I published The Pirate's Secret Baby (High Seas #3) which went on to win the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence and the New England Readers' Choice Award. The Pirate's Secret Baby led to What the Parrot Saw (High Seas #4), the story of that little moppet all grown up and running the family business.

To celebrate that publication anniversary, the ebook edition of The Pirate's Secret Baby will be on sale at Smashwords f…

Review: A Dangerous Collaboration

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A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best part of this novel wasn't the whodunnit, though that was well done, but seeing the interaction between Veronica, Stoker, and Stoker's brother. We saw Stoker and Veronica's relationship tested further, and we also learned about some of the tensions in the Templeton-Vane family that led to Stoker's estrangement from his home.

It's a great series with a heroine for our times--a scientist, an explorer, a woman who embraces her own sexuality--and the hero who appreciates her. I look forward to more Veronica Speedwell mysteries and many hours of reading enjoyment in months to come!

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Review: Devil's Daughter

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Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Lisa Kleypas historical romances because of the depth and quality of her research. It doesn't hurt that she packages that research into a fabulous love story.

We first met West Ravenel some books back in the Ravenel series when he was introduced to us as the pot-bellied, soft, wastrel younger brother of Devon Ravenel, Lord Trenear. But West's character began to undergo some changes and it's all come to fruition in the latest book as West meets Phoebe, Lady Clare, a beautiful young widow and the daughter of characters from the Wallflower series.

Phoebe wants nothing to do with the man who bullied her late husband when they were schoolboys, and West thinks himself unworthy of such a fine woman. I enjoyed how their relationship developed slowly rather than with instalust, and how each character uncovered the hidden strengths in the other.

Lisa Kleypas is an autobuy for me and has been since her very…

Review: Rogue Protocol

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Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fascinating and satisfying Murderbot story from the very talented Martha Wells. I'm recommending this series to all my friends looking for interesting and intriguing SF.

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Review: Run Away

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Run Away by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It kept me up past my bedtime, which is high praise indeed.
The question always lurks in a parent's mind--what would you do to save your child? In the case of parents of drug abusers the question becomes even more complex and troubling, and Sam knows this, but when he sees his strung out daughter Paige in Central Park, he approaches her to offer help one more time.

This sets a series of events in motion which spiral into secrets revealed, murder, deeply buried crimes and answers the question "What would you do? How far would you go?"

I was flipping pages as the ending snuck up on me, leaving me once again impressed with Harlan Coben's talent as a mystery and suspense writer.

(This is a stand alone novel, not part of his ongoing series.)

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Review: Connections in Death

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Connections in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes you get the murder mystery, sometimes you get the police procedural, in this book you get both, and it's still a satisfying experience nearly 50 novels into "In Death".

Eve Dallas is called in to investigate a suspected OD by a drug user, far below her pay grade but a favor for a friend. She quickly determines it's murder and we readers realize what cops say all the damn time--most crimes are committed by people who do stupid things, not by criminal masterminds. But watching her and her team (and Roarke, of course) unravel two gangs' businesses and rivalries is a delight to watch, especially the climactic battle and interrogations at the end.

I expect Queen Nora has something special planned for "In Death, #50" and in the meantime, we'll cheerfully glom all the books she produces until that day. Incidentally, if you're not a fan, I insist you start with Naked in Death…

Review: Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design

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Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design by Phaidon Editors
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book as a gift and it is drop-dead gorgeous. These are not your boring dozen roses & baby's breath, but a breathtaking look at modern floral design, design that incorporates found objects and flowers in all stages. It's the perfect coffee table book or gift because you don't sit down and read it from cover-to-cover, but rather sip at it like a fine cocktail incorporating carefully curated ingredients.

Full disclosure--one of the artists featured is @wifenyc (Sophie Parker) who is my son's significant other and a supremely talented botanical artist. Check out her work on Instagram!

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Review: Polaris Rising

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Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For readers who like science fiction with romance, this book hits all the right buttons. A princess who kicks butt and takes names, a hero who's capable and has her back, well drawn secondary characters, good plot and excellent world building. There's also a set-up for future Consortium Rebellion novels that's integrated without being heavy-handed. I liked it very much and it was a great whiz-bang, action filled, hot and heavy weekend read.

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Review: Snowdrift and Other Stories

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Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a perfect addition to one's Regency romance library, as the Divine Georgette gives us a short story collection with all the elements that have endeared her to fans over the decades. I do recommend spreading out the reading of these gems rather than consuming them in one sitting. Not every story is a keeper but some, like Hazard will have Regency fans grinning out loud.

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Review: The Night Tiger

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The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable tale of pre-WWII Malaysia, a land filled with English expats, Chinese, Malay, Indians and where magic walks on tiger paws. It's a story of family and friendship, a budding romance, a young woman who wants more, an orphan, a mystery, and maybe a shape-changer. I found it engrossing and entertaining and would definitely read more by this author.

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Review: An Unconditional Freedom

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An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A searing and satisfying conclusion to the Loyal League historical romances. Searing because the anger and frustration of racism in America comes through loud and clear in the author's details of life during the Civil War, from the perspective of both enslaved and free people of color in the South. The trauma and precariousness of daily existence is told through the lens of a romance between two troubled people--Daniel, who survived his own enslavement after being born free, and Janeta, who's always had to struggle to please people lest she lose her place as a free woman in a slave-owning Cuban family.

Cole's trilogy is a refreshing alternative to the historical romances that glorify or downplay life in the Antebellum South and is recommended reading.

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Review: Pirates in History and Popular Culture

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Pirates in History and Popular Culture by Antonio Sanna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A tip of the hat to Cindy Vallar of the Pirates and Privateers Newsletter for recommending this excellent collection of essays on the perception of pirates through books, plays, opera, manga, RPG and film through the centuries. Even the Pastafarians get a shout-out. I enjoyed the selections both for the depth of research and for the authors' conclusions on the role pirates have played, and continue to play, in popular culture.

One disclaimer--My novel Sea Change is referenced in the chapter "Really Romantic?--Pirates in Romantic Fiction" and this makes me very happy.

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Review: Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

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Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating and moving story of Cudjo Lewis, survivor of the last slaver ship to carry captive Africans to the United States. Lewis was interviewed by the great author and ethnologist Zora Neale Hurston and she lets him tell his own story in his own fashion. It's a moving tale of loss and hope and survival, and such eyewitness accounts of the horrors of slavery are all too rare when told in the victim's own voice. It's especially moving when the reader realizes that he was telling his tale less than 100 years ago, in the late 1920s. We are far closer to the tragedy of slavery and its legacy than people want to acknowledge.

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Review: Spacer's Cinderella

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Spacer's Cinderella by Adria Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now see, this is why reviews matter. I saw a mention of this book in a writer's Twitter feed and it intrigued me. A Cinderella story set in space sounded like just what I needed in a week filled with crazysauce, but this debut author's work captured me far more than I expected it would...and it never would have happened if someone hadn't left a review.

Aurora is a grad student conducting research on terraforming. She's living on the edge of poverty, working as a research assistant, a TA, and conducting her own experiments, all in the hopes her struggling home planet will benefit. Her mentor is fired and his successor is antagonistic and it's all circling the drain, so when her BFF insists on a night out clubbing, Aurora gives in.

That's where she meets Magnus Thorne. Fill in the blank with every hunky, muscled, brilliant hero description and you've got him. The evening doesn't end t…

Review: Picture Perfect Cowboy

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Picture Perfect Cowboy by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another "Original Sinners" erotic romance winner from Ms. Reisz with a delightful cowboy who's almost too good to be true, but afraid to fly his kink flag until he meets a sub from NYC who shows him the ropes. Literally.

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Special savings for #NationalPuppyDay

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Daphne turned and walked blindly back to her cabin. Pompom greeted her and jumped into her lap when she sat on her bunk, staring at the empty covers of the bunk across from hers. He licked her hand and she put her head down next to the warm body snuggled into the crook of her arm.
“At least you love me just the way I am, Pompom,” she whispered to the bichon.--Castaway Dreams (High Seas #2)


I posted pictures of my favorite puppy, Diva Dachshund Dodi, on #NationalPuppyDay, but I forgot to mention my second favorite puppy, Pompom from Castaway Dreams(High Seas #2). In honor of Pompom and all the good doggos out there, I'm discounting the ebook edition of Castaway Dreams, 50% off at Smashwords with codeUM65Q through March 31. Stock up now for your summer beach reading!


Review: Artificial Condition

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Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm enjoying this series so much! It reminds me of why I love SF--great worldbuilding, snappy writing, memorable characters, all the whiz-bang excitement of life in space, and a protagonist different enough to be alien, but one with whom the reader can relate.

Our self-named "Murderbot" is traveling back to the scene of the crime to try and discover what went wrong. It's aboard a ship with ART, who becomes a sidekick of sorts, a massive ship AI who has a disturbing sense of curiosity. Once again our security specialist bot is forced to interact with and protect humans, bringing it's own self-aware decision-making skills into play.

Sometimes when you finish reading a book you're filled with glee that there's another story awaiting you in that particular universe, and that's how I feel about Artificial Condition.

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Review--All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

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All Systems Red by Martha Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Fabulous SF with action galore! It’s renewed the “sensawonder” that made me fall in love with science fiction.



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Review: The Bengal Bridegift

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The Bengal Bridegift by Anne Cleeland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel had been on my radar for ages and I'm so glad i finally got around to reading The Bengal Bridegift. It had everything I love: a mystery (where's the bridegift?), a plucky heroine who is brave and makes good decisions, wonderful and well-drawn secondary characters and a hunky pirate hero. What's not to love?

Juno has been raised in India while her father, a sea captain, works for the East India Company. She's just survived a massacre at her convent school when a bold pirate shows up (as they do.) Jost is absolutely delightful. He struggles with English language idiom but as more than one bloody encounter reveals, he's most definitely a pirate at heart. Fortunately for Juno, he's also a friend of her late father's...or so Jost says.

There were so many great twists and turns in this story that it kept me reading late into the night, and left me completely satisfied at the end. I…

Review: Lady Derring Takes a Lover

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Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Julie Anne Long is an auto-buy for me, and her latest (and the start of a new series!!!) didn't disappoint. There was excellent character development, effervescent dialogue, and some fabulous LOL moments (the cigar smoking scene was especially memorable.)

Delilah, the widow of an earl who was pretty much a waste of space, is left with nothing. No home, no family, no money, just a property down near the London docks. A chance meeting at her solicitor's office introduces her to her husband's mistress and these two unlikely allies, aided by the most inept lady's maid ever, pool their resources to open a most singular boarding house.

I really loved this book, and it filled a weekend afternoon with delightful reading. I can't wait for the next book in the series, and while I love Ms. Long's contemporary novels too, it's her Regency era books that have a prominent spot on my "keeper&qu…

What The Parrot Saw

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This week saw the release (aka #BookBirthday) of What the Parrot Saw (High Seas #4), my eighth historical romance (available in ebook and print from all booksellers).

Parrot is the tale of a grown-up Mathilde St. Armand, aka "Marauding Mattie". Mattie started as a "plot moppet", a secondary character in The Pirate's Secret Baby (High Seas #3), the child Robert St. Armand never knew he'd fathered. Secret Baby was Robert and Lydia's book, but even as I was writing it I knew I'd have to tell Mattie's story some day. She was the illegitimate, mixed-race child of a pirate and a prostitute, and she wasn't going to fit in well in Victorian England, no matter how much Robert and Lydia loved her.

Mattie's tale, as more than one beta reader and reviewer pointed out, is darker than my other novels. Yes, there's still humor, but much of the book concerns enslaved people in Florida Territory. That is not a topic to be treated lightly and slavery&#…

Review: Out of the Dark

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Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X, aka The Nowhere Man has two tasks to complete, each separated by an entire continent: 1. Help a mentally disabled man find justice and 2. Assassinate the President of the United States.

This is boffo, non-stop excitement and I loved every page of it. If you've never read an Orphan X book it's best to start with No. 1, Orphan X, but if you're an action/adventure fan who likes Jack Reacher, Bob Lee Swagger, John Rain, John Wick, Jane Whitehead--you get the idea--you'll fall under the spell of Evan Smoak and his special skill set.


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Review: The Burglar

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The Burglar by Thomas Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a real-page turner, and I especially liked the heroine being small statured and using that to her advantage. Cunning can win out over size, particularly if one cheats. There were points where I was worried the heroine might be making choices that moved her into the TSTL column, but I hung in there and was rewarded for my patience with a rousing tale of burglary, friendship, justice and street smarts.

I'm a huge fan of Thomas Perry and he's come through again for his legions of readers.

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