Nita Good Book

Lately, I've been reading quite a bit a romance, mostly historical and paranormal with a little contemporary mixed in. I also enjoy fantasy, urban fantasy, and history.

A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses  - Molly Harper Nola promised her grandmother on her deathbed she would search for the four Elements created during a feud with the Kerrigan branch of her family of witches hundreds of years ago. She learns the Elements were given to her absent grandfather who lived in Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky. Reluctantly she leaves Ireland for Half-Moon Hollow. There she finds vampire Jane now owns the bookshop her grandfather owned. While searching for the Elements, she makes friends, gets to know and lusts after her hot, though a little strange, neighbor, and learns a lot about a grandfather she thought had abandoned her grandmother.

I can always count on giggling my way through Harper's books. I definitely giggled while reading this one, but I thought it probably the most serious of her books. And that's not a bad thing at all. I still really enjoyed the story and the characters.

Jed, the love interest, was deliciously sweet and flirty. All of our favorite characters make an appearance - Jane, Gabriel, Zeb, Andrea, and Dick. Nola makes some great friends while her search for the Elements starts out strong and then gets more and more frustrating as the summer solstice deadline approaches. And she seems to not be the only one searching for them. She has to keep her cool and use her smarts to find all four Elementals.

This one could probably be read as a stand-alone. But I think for full enjoyment you should read the the Jane Jameson series and the first book in this Half Moon Hallow spin off series. They will provide good, funny entertainment.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
Gameboard of the Gods - Richelle Mead I liked the mythology and the world building in this book, but it's revealed soooooo sloooooowly. Generally an author presents the world through a character's thoughts. The characters explain how things work in their world, even if in real life people usually don't think in such descriptions. In this book, though, the characters think more like real people. They'd throw out these words and phrases that make complete sense to them, because they live and understand that world. But then they wouldn't explain further what they are talking or thinking about to us, the audience. So some things that were brought up at the beginning of the book would make absolutely no sense to me until suddenly it would click half way through when I would get more context or finally some more description. It was kind of maddening.

The characters were a bit frustrating, too, especially Justin. He was selfish and a bit obnoxious. I kept waiting for Mead to flesh out his character. I'd say I really didn't start liking the guy until the last 1/4 of the book, and even then my frustration with him did not completely go away. Mae I liked better. She could be stiff, but I liked her sense of honor and her loyalty.

So even with me confused half the time while reading this book and not being 100% on board with the characters, I liked this book. I thought the world building and setting fascinating. They are what kept me going. I want to understand what the heck is actually happening. I plan on continuing the series just so I can learn more.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Taken by a Vampire - Joey W. Hill I've stated this before - Hill is the best at writing characters. They are so diverse and beautifully presented. On the surface, you have dominant vampires and their human servants. But it's much more complex than that. Each vampire and each human has his or her own desires and struggles. Each coupling (or tripling) is singular, seductive, and moving. I loved these characters. This book in the series was probably the most emotional for me. It truly is about finding and accepting love. And Hill is able to present it in a completely un-sappy way.

If you haven't tried this series yet and like vampire books, especially ones involving BDSM, I highly recommend you give it a shot. I haven't been let down by Hill yet.
Sweet Revenge - Zoe Archer Of the Zoe Archer's historical romances I've read so far, this one is my favorite. If you've ever seen the TV show Leverage, then the setup for this book will be very familiar. The organization, Nemesis, Unlimited, helps people, the poor and the unpowerful, find justice when they can't find it themselves.

Jack Dalton has only one thing on his mind - vengeance. He escapes prison and sets out to kill the man, Lord Rockley, who murdered his sister and put Jack in jail. He is waylaid by Eva Warrick, a member of Nemesis, Unlimited, who persuades him to help bring Lord Rockley down instead of killing him.

Jack is big, gruff, and single-minded, at least in the beginning. But as he gets to know Eva, his focus starts to change. He's still hell bent on vengeance, but he starts to look beyond that. He's a fascinating man and I can completely see why Eva couldn't resist him. Eva's a great character too - smart, brave, compassionate. They're a great match.

It's a very different historical romance. It's very non-Society; the hero and heroine are both from the lower classes. And most of the story takes place on the outskirts. It was refreshing to read a historical romance like this, though I'm very much looking forward to reading the story behind the one aristocrat in the group, Simon. If you're lord and lady'd out, I say give this book a shot.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
Hungry Like a Wolf (Others) - Christine Warren ARC provided through Edelweiss. Will review soon.
Once Upon a Tower - Eloisa James This is the second Eloisa James book I have read. So far I have really liked her characters, especially the hero in this one. Gowan Stoughton starts out a pretty straight forward guy. He likes to get things done in their prim proper order. And now it's time for him to pick out a wife. He decides that since the fellow he has a business question for is holding a ball, he will look for a wife there.

Ergo, two birds with one stone. He preferred three or four birds with a single stone, but sometimes one had to settle for less.

I'm a sucker for stand up type guys falling for wild child type women. But I also like the fact that James didn't take it too far. Gowan and Edie aren't complete opposites constantly conflicting. Gowan thought her one way when they meet at the ball because she was acting demure and serene. In fact she was out of her mind with fever and pretty much has no memory of that evening. But she agrees with his proposal because it is what her father wants. I LOVED that they actually start their relationship through letters and Gowan reads a completely different side to Edie, a flirtatious sexy side, one that he is completely intrigued by. So they do like each other and the other's personality, mostly. But they do have issues.

Their main conflict actually ends up being an intimacy issue. One that could have been solved if Edie had just been honest with Gowan in the beginning, but I do understand her fears in doing so. Her fears are pretty much justified when she finally does talk to Gowan. He reacts very strongly. His insecurities come forward and his need for presenting a perfect persona override his compassion and love for Edie.

What also doesn't help their marriage beginnings is their obsessions. Edie is masterful with the cello and needs her hours of daily practice time with the instrument. And Gowan is work obsessed. Their alone time is very limited. They have to learn that their lives are no longer their own and how to share themselves.

Their conflicts I found refreshing and the resolutions beautifully done. Also I found the epilogue to be the best type of sappy. I liked this one very much.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
Aidan - Abby Niles I liked the characters, even when I thought the heroine, Jaylin, was being too stubborn in her views of mating and the afterlife. I thought it kind of strange that a psychologist would see the one extreme side to mating. She refused to fully look at the real life positive examples of mating right in front of her. But at the same time, even in her ignorance, she does have the happiness of whoever she would mate with in mind. She hates the idea of someone suffering after her death. As a half shifter she has the option of mating with a shifter and after her death, going to their version of heaven, Anavrin or marrying a human and going to heaven. She's set on marrying a human. A human, unlike a shifter as she sees it, could find happiness again if she were to die before him.

But then she meets Aidan O’Connell, a shifter who contacts her to help his friend deal his mating problems. As soon as Aidan sees Jayin, he is set on making her his mate. Jaylin fights his pursuit tooth and nail.

As someone else mentioned in her review, the change of words - Fewshon, Wydowed, etc. - reminded me too much of Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. And the drama towards the end was perpetrated by an object, the Splycer, that I didn't really understand. But I did like the characters enough to be invested in their romance. I had to see how Aidan would get through to Jaylin in the first 3/4 of the book and how Jaylin would get through to Aidan the last 1/4 of the book.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Hearts of Shadow - Kira Brady Loved the first book in this series and was very excited to read the second. I was not disappointed. It was just as wonderfully character driven as the first book. Lief is a dragon shifter who now finds himself the leader of his people, the Drekar. He is more happy with his inventions and is odd compared to other dragon shifters. His brother's blood slaves were also passed on to Lief, including Grace. Grace has been working hard towards her freedom. She took whatever job Lief's brother, Sven, gave her, no matter how dangerous.

Grace assumes Lief is just like his brother - arrogant, violent, and demanding. It takes her awhile to see past his extremely good looks to see he is not like his brother, mostly. He's still a dragon shifter, so can get very possessive and violent when angered. He frustrates Grace when he refuses to give her dangerous jobs to keep her safe. Those are the jobs that pay well. He'd get rid of her blood slave status if he could just figure out how. Both have to look past pre-conceived ideas of the other in order for their attraction to turn into a relationship. I enjoyed Grace's toughness and determination. As for Lief, how could I not like a charming, gorgeous, nerd that can shift into a dragon? I liked the balance Lief had between his dragon side and nerdy inventor side. But he does have to learn how to be a leader when he would rather just be working in his laboratory.

We also see the politics of this post-apocalyptic Seattle as the Drekar, the Kivati (other shapeshifters), and the humans try to work together to make a better Seattle. The negotiations are a bit maddening as the shifter races hate each other and the humans don't trust any of the shifters. Add to that mix a vengeful, violent demigod and you have a very complicated situation for everybody.

This is really gritty, well written story. I think both romance and urban fantasy fans would enjoy this series.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Forever - Jacquelyn Frank Frank has definitely brought us a unique world. It has elements of ancient Egyptian mythology and reincarnation. The first book in the series was very heavy in the world building and lighter on the romance, I thought. But I enjoyed the world building enough to not miss the romance. I was happy to find the romance and world building much more even in this book.

Frank delves more into how the whole sharing your body with another soul works. These Nightwalkers are reincarnated by sharing the body of a human. You really can't have a romance with just the two Nightwalkers in those bodies. A Nightwalker blends his soul with a human's. But there are two conscience beings involved. So really this is a romance with all four souls. It was fascinating watching the human characters come to terms with this. I really enjoyed the whole blending concept. I wish Frank had introduced Hatshepsut earlier. We got to see Marissa come to terms with Jackson/Menes, but we don't get to see a blended Jackson/Menes falling for a blended Marissa/Hatshepsut. I would have liked to have seen the four blended souls coming together.

I'm really glad Frank went back to her Nightwalker world. Each Nightwalker race she introduces becomes my favorite. I can't wait to see what type of Nightwalker she introduces next.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
Nicholas: Lord of Secrets - Grace Burrowes For the first book in the series, I enjoyed the first half, but thought the second half dragged on for too long. I had the opposite problem with this one. The story in the first half dragged for me, but got a bit more interesting towards the end once the hero and heroine were married. We know the two get married before this book even starts because you see some of their story in the previous book, as these two stories take place pretty much at the same time. But it takes the hero and heroine forever to actually get married. It's back and forth as Leah deals with her father and Nicholas tries to figure out how to keep her safe.

I also had a problem with how their major conflict once they are married was resolved. I couldn't believe Nicholas had never talked to his family about what he conceived to be a huge problem. He makes this very concrete decision about his life without making sure the reasons for doing so are actually true. It was just very unbelievable to me.

And one personal quibble I had that other readers probably won't have a problem with, Nicholas uses the endearment "lovey", and he uses it a lot. I don't mind "love", but add a y at the end and it makes me cringe.

I enjoyed the books I read by Burrowes outside of this series. I think I'll go back to reading about the Windham's and leave this series alone for now.

ARC provided through NetGalley
Beauty and the Blacksmith - Tessa Dare Super cute novella. Diana Highwood has been crushing on the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes, since her mother moved them to Spindle Cove. She keeps making excuses to visit him by breaking her jewelry and such. But Diana shouldn't be lusting after Aaron as she is Society and he is not. Her mother has been pushing her to marry as high in society as she can.

Aaron looks forward to Diana's visits. When he finally confronts her about her visits, they start a secret affair. Neither is sure, though, if their love has a future.

Aaron is such a sweetheart. And hot! I can see why Diana would fall for such a guy. Diana tries so hard to be the type of woman he needs (this leads to a hilarious dinner scene). I would have loved it if this had been a full length novel. Not because I thought this novella was lacking, but because I love these two characters so much.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
Wicked as She Wants - Delilah S. Dawson Starting this book, I thought I would miss not having Casper's point of view. But just like Criminy, he's such a dynamic character that I really didn't feel like I was missing anything being only in Ahnastasia's head. Casper's mesmerizing even at his lowest. And it helped that I loved Ahnastasia. She's violent, self-centered, and maybe not completely sane. I was fascinated by her and her transformation from actually wanting to kill Casper to only threatening to kill Casper. As Casper says to her:

It's endearing how often you threaten to kill me. That's practically flirting to you, isn't it, darlin'?

We don't get the circus in this one, but we get to see more of the world as Casper and Ahnastasia travel from London to Freesia. Dawson has created such a marvelous world. I've truly enjoyed the settings of each of the books, including the two novellas, in this series. The world is imaginative, dangerous, and highly entertaining. And I like the slight steampunk feel (airships!).

I very much recommend you read the first book in this series. It's awesome, but also because Casper is introduced in it. Then read The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance, as Casper has a role in this novella too. The three stories together give a fuller picture of Casper and his journeys in Sang and beyond. You'll have a great time, I promise.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
A Spear of Summer Grass - Deanna Raybourn I really really liked the setting and characters in this book. On the surface Delilah seems like a very selfish, non-caring character. She uses it as a way of shielding people looking too deeply into her, because she herself doesn't want to look too deeply inside. But I feel like how she interacts with those she truly cares for and respects is telling. And as some of her past is revealed, I became more sympathetic. I did love that Delilah keeps her independent and sarcastic attitude throughout the whole book. I enjoyed her interactions with Ryder. It's a beautifully dramatic relationship.

Raybourn does a great job presenting Kenya. I loved her descriptions of the land and animals and Delilah and Ryder's reactions to and love for Kenya.

I wasn't too keen with the murder mystery part of the story. I would have just as much enjoyed a plot of Delilah only dealing with relationships and herself in the splendid setting of Kenya.

It's a beautifully written story. I think historical fiction fans will enjoy.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
A Passion for Pleasure - Nina Rowan I feel like I've been reading a lot of historical romances lately with characters that have awful parents. In this book, Clara has an awful father. He refuses to give custody of Clara's son back to her after the death of her husband. He states it's because he believes she had something to do with her husband's death. She knows that her father wants the house Clara inherited and thinks her father would trade her son for the property. Unfortunately she herself can't give it to him. But if she were to re-marry and give that property to her husband, he could then give it to her father. This is something she is willing to do even though she really doesn't want to get married again. She didn't really like her first marriage. But Clara will do anything to get her son back.

Clara currently is living with her uncle and works in his museum of automata. Sebastian Hall shows up to the museum on an assignment for his brother. He has asked him to inquire about the plans to a machine Clara's uncle might have inherited from a clockmaker. Sebastian is a genius piano player. But something made him quit his most recent gig. Now in London, his father is pushing him hard to marry.

This is not the first time they met. Sebastian tutored Clara for a bit when she was a young woman. Clara put Sebastian on a pedestal, had a huge crush on him. Sebastian was a bit of a rock star. When they meet again, there is an obvious attraction between the two. Clara decides that a marriage of convenience would benefit them both. I liked Clara's straight-forwardness. And I liked the fact that Sebastian comes to trust Clara very quickly, even when he doesn't feel like he can talk to anybody else about why he quit playing the piano.

What I liked most about this book is how much Clara and Sebastian help each other. They do hit some rough spots. Sebastian comes to believe he is less of a man because of the reasons he quit playing piano and that Clara could never love the man he is now. Clara feels like all of her focus should be on her son. But they work really well together, getting past Sebastian's insecurities and getting Clara's son back.

The characters really made this book for me. I very much plan on reading the first book in the series. Looks like the heroine is a smart mathematician. I usually really enjoy smart, geeky heroines in my historicals.

Favorite quote:

In music, counterpoint involves independent melodic lines that harmonize when played together," Sebastian explained. "As in our situation, we can now give each other what we desire.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Captive Prince: Volume Two (Captive Prince, #2) - S.U. Pacat,  C.S. Pacat This one's getting rave reviews, and I can see why. It's beautifully written and the characters are captivating and complex. It's a love story that starts out in pain and hatred. It's a story that takes place in a fantastical world, but since this story very much focuses on the characters, it's not an overly complicated world. That's not a bad thing. The focus really is on the characters and the political maneuvering they all must play.

This story is being told in three volumes, and unfortunately, at this time, volume three has not been published. I'm glad I read the book now, just because I enjoyed these first two volumes very much, but a part of me wishes I had waited until the third volume was also available. Waiting for volume three is going to test my patience.
The Proposition - Jennifer Lyon Sloane Michaels is immediately taken with Kat Thayne when he spots her at a wedding. She is there to deliver the wedding cake she baked. She owns her own bakery. She's been hiding behind her bakery for the last five years after a terrible incident. Sloan has a proposition for her. She will become his "plus one" (neither Sloane nor Kat do dating) and he will teach her how to defend herself. Sloane grew up in foster homes. He has made his fortune building gyms all over the US and is a retired UFC fighter.

Sloane really wants to get in Kat's pants, but he also really wants to help her get past her panic attacks and deal with her fears. He doesn't see her as weak. But he does have his own issues. We learn he is out for vengeance that has something to do with his dead sister, though we don't learn the details in this book. He also doesn't do permanent relationships with women. His relationships are always casual. But he's already breaking his own rules with Kat.

This book isn't very long. The series seems to be more serial like. But I didn't feel jipped by the amount of story. It wasn't too short and there was enough story to get to know the characters. But the story does end unresolved with an obvious continuation in the next book.

It's a good beginning. I like the characters a very much. Sloane is alpha and only a little overbearing. He pushes Kat, but he does it with her anxieties in mind. He really does want to see her able to stand out on her own and not afraid of the world. And though Kat is currently anxious and fearful, she's not pathetic. She wants to get past that fear and have a normal life. The story's dramatic without being over the top, I thought. I look forward to reading how they get past their issues and ideas of what they truly want in their relationship.

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