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.

Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare So I was enjoying this one. Dare is such a great writer and I've liked all of her characters. But I wasn't loving it as much as the previous books in the series, especially A Week to be Wicked. The story just wasn't grabbing me as much as the others. And then the book punched me in the gut. I'd been waiting for Griffin to finally confide in Pauline and tell her his secrets. I had an idea what he would reveal, but it was all just heartwrenching. The room and carriage scenes are beautifully written. I went from liking Griffin to loving him.

I also loved how Dare resolved the whole a duke in a relationship with a barmaid dilemma. It's not just Paulina simply giving up her past or who she is and becoming a duchess. It's much more complicated than that and I'm glad Dare addresses it.

I enjoyed the first half, but I adored the second half of this book.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
If He's Tempted (The Wherlockes) - Hannah Howell Before reading the book description, I assumed this was a vampire book. The male model on the cover is so pale! But after reading the description, I learned, in fact, that this is not a vampire novel. There is a small paranormal element in the book, but no vampires.

All the Wherlock's have some sort of gift, and the heroine, Lady Olympia Wherlocke, has the gift of foresight. Olympia is a woman with purpose. She loves helping her family and others. She is asked by Lady Agatha Mallam to help find her brother, Lord Brant Mallam. Brant and Agatha's mother is pretty awful. I guess I would call her straight up evil. She would sell her 16 year old daughter to a diseased, lecherous old man. Agatha is desperate to find her brother to put a stop to this marriage.

Brant has given up on his mother. After what she did to him in the past, he has decided to stay out of her life as much as possible. But he doesn't predict just how awful his mother is, and ends up giving his legal responsibilities of his sister to their mother. Instead of him making sure she finds a proper husband, he has given his mother those rights. He's not a bad man, just someone who refuses to look too closely at his own mother. He spends his time running his estate, carousing, and staying far away from his mother. But this changes as soon as he finds out from Olympia what his mother has planned. As he works with Olympia to keep his sister safe, they become lovers.

This is the fifth book in the Wherlocke series. I haven't read the previous ones, and I wasn't too lost. I liked the fact that Brandt knew the Wherelock family had gifts, so Olympia's gift was no big deal in their relationship. I do wish her gift had been used more, though. But overall I liked the characters very much. They were very fleshed out. I liked Brandt's growth in this book, and Olympia's steadiness. The mother was maybe a little over the top evil, but I don't think cartoonish.

I think it was a great first Howell book for me. I plan to read more.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Darius: Lord of Pleasures - Grace Burrowes There are quite a few historical romances out there that include a courtesan as the heroine. But in this book the hero is the one selling his body for his livelihood. Though the youngest son of an earl, Darius finds himself without an income. So he quietly starts selling himself to a few ladies of the ton.

At the start of this book he is approached by Lord William Longstreet with a proposition. He has heard rumors about Darius and thinks Dariu may be able to help him with his situation. Lord William is an old man with a young wife. He doesn't want to leave Vivian without an heir. Lord William would pay to have Vivian stay with Darius in the country for a month in the hopes she will conceive. Darius is very reluctant and doesn't agree until he actually meets Vivian.

Vivian agrees to this scheme for her husband. She's actually a pretty sensible woman. I liked her. I enjoyed the story that takes place during the month the two are together. They're cute together. The rest of the book is the two trying to stay away from each other, but not being very successful. Honestly, the second half felt very long to me. It was just a lot of frustrations by the hero and heroine.

The hero must also deal with the ladies of the ton who are paying him for sex. These women like to inflict pain while they're with him. I was confused as to why he was with these women. He doesn't enjoy his time with them. Was he punishing himself for his profession?

Enjoyable first half for me, but second half was too drawn out with Darius and Vivian's back and forth in their frustrations.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance - Delilah S. Dawson Frannie Pleasance is a little fearful of the world right now. She generally sticks to her pet shop only venturing out when she needs to. On one of her excursions, she comes across a passed out, beat up, and naked fellow. If you've read Wicked as They Come (I highly recommend you do, if you haven't), then you're probably curious to find out what happened to Casper. You get a glimpse of what his life has been like since leaving the circus and coming to London, because he is the man Frannie finds passed out and invites to stay with her.

But this isn't Casper's story; it's Frannie's. One evening she wakes up to find her shop on fire. Her shop is saved by firefighter Thom Maccallan. Frannie is quite taken with this brawny Scottish firefighter. He shows up the next day to help her search for the animals she had let free to save from the fire. But he's not only there to help her with the animals. He too is quite smitten with Frannie. I found their romance quite lovely. Thom brings Frannie out of her shell. And Frannie is able to show Thom a part of herself she has kept hidden from everybody. There is also danger surrounding their romance as they come to find out the fire was no accident and other incidents soon follow.

So far Dawson hasn't let me down with her characters. For a novella, I really felt her characters were fleshed out and beautifully done. Her alternate world is fascinating, and though I missed the circus, I was happy to visit Sang's version of London.

I got enough of Casper in this book be make me eager for his. Bring on the music!

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
Highlander Most Wanted - Maya Banks Much like the previous book in this series, the heroine, Genevieve McInnes, is dealing with being ostracized. In this case it's from the clan she's been kidnapped into by the sadist son of the clan's leader. The whole clan is afraid of the guy, so instead of helping this young woman, they treat her like complete crap. They push their own insecurities and powerlessness onto her. It's pretty awful to watch. So not only is she being tormented by the guy who kidnapped her, but she is pretty much being spit on by his clan.

At the end of the last book this sadistic guy is killed and his father, the laird, runs off. Bowen Montgomery is appointed by his brother to run this McHugh clan until they can figure out what to do with them. Because of the way the clan treats Genevieve, he, at first, assumes she had willingly been the lover of the laird's son.

This romance really forms out of tragedy. Once Bowen learns the truth of Genevieve's kidnapping, he offers to take her home to her family. But Genevieve doesn't want her family to see her the way she is now. They think her dead, and she feels that is better than seeing their daughter scarred (physically and emotionally). The romance is slow, which I'm glad for. I just can't imagine Genevieve trusting anybody right away and quickly forming any attachments after what she had been through.

I like Bowen very much. Their are some misunderstandings between the two, but he does spend most of the book trying to help Genevieve, including helping her see she's worthy of her family. Genevieve shows her strength, even when she believes her self broken. She helps the clan that is still mostly treating her like crap. And she proves to be very useful when the keep is attacked.

I do really enjoy Banks' Scottish romances. This one is probably the darkest of the bunch. But it was lovely watching the heroine realize she doesn't need to hide from the world after what was done to her.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
If You Give a Rake a Ruby - Shana Galen Warrick Fitzhugh is on a mission. He is looking for a certain man and he suspects Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery, can lead him to this crime lord. Fallon is very reluctant to help Fitzhugh when he demands her help. The man he is looking for is from her past, a past she would rather forget. But to keep her past hidden, she agrees to help.

Fitzhugh is a hard man, set on his mission. He's a bit tough on Fallon in the beginning. He only knows her as her reputation. But, of course, there is much more to Fallon. She's smart and resourceful. We get to watch Fallon confront her awful past. Fitzhugh does soften a little as he gets to know Fallon. His focus starts to not be solely fix on his mission.

I'm really liking the Jewels of the Ton series. Galen gives us three women, who on the outside look like courtesans just out for some fun in Society, but are much more complex characters. The heroes too, at first, seem either too focused or too stuck up, but as you learn why they act the way they do, you find much more complicated characters. And watching their lives collide and their understandings change is very satisfying to read.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Between Two Thorns - Emma Newman This one's a very very interesting take on the fae and sorcerers. Newman introduces how this supernatural world works slowly, and so I found it a little confusing at times. But I really enjoyed the world she presents. The fae are mysterious and, if we are going to go by the one sorcerer we actually meet in this story, the sorcerers are a bit crazy. I was fascinated by the Arbiters and how their whole soul outside their bodies worked. Arbiters police for the sorcerers and make sure regular folk are not affected by the fae.

We get multiple viewpoints, including an Arbiter, a mundane who ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time, a stuck up Fae-touched just recently returned from his grand tour, and a Fae-touched young woman who has run off from her strict family to live the life she wants. All these characters intertwine at the machinations of the fae. Cathy was my favorite character to follow. She's adaptive but a little pouty when forced back to her family. She has a lot of potential in figuring out how to get out of the mess she is in.

I do wish the world had been introduced a bit more quickly, because once I understood who was who and what the Nether was and how the whole Fae-touched society worked, I started really enjoying the story.

The ending isn't a cliffhanger, per se, but the story is definitely not over at the conclusion of this book. Looks like there will be at least two more books after this one.

3 1/2 Stars.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires - Molly Harper Harper is an author I go to when I want to read something funny with quirky heroines. I'd say this book isn't as pop culturally as her Jane Jameson series. Also, there are no annoying family members, which I appreciated.

I like the way Iris thinks. She's sensible and likes to list out her possibilities before making up her mind, even in the face of danger. Cal starts out an uptight, cold vampire. But I warmed up to him as he warmed up to Iris.

The mystery of who poisoned Cal wasn't very hard to figure out, but this didn't stop me from enjoying following Iris and Cal as they followed the clues.

Very cute and humorous.

The Earl in My Bed - Sophie Jordan Everyone, including herself, assumes Paget will marry her childhood friend Owen. He left four years earlier to fight a war with the understanding they would marry when he returned. But Paget comes to realize that as much as she cares for Owen, she doesn't passionately love him. And she really wants to marry someone she is passionate about.

Jamie is Owen's older brother. He has returned from the war named the new Earl of Winningham after their older brother passes away. He has never gotten along with Paget, looking down on her as just a vicar's daughter. But his old prejudices have altered and he returns home to find Paget a very desirable woman.

Paget at first finds Jamie the same, a person who riles her up. But he also brings out her passionate side. Because neither want to hurt Owen, they fight their attraction.

It's short, so the story moves along quickly, but I thought the progression of their relationship believable. It was a very intense relationship, just like what Paget was looking for. But Jamie had his sweet moments too. I was a little frustrated with the way Jamie handled a situation towards the end and how easily Paget gave into it. Really, though, what this short story did was make me very intrigued by Owen. I can't wait to read his book now.

3.5 stars

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
What Happens in Scotland - Jennifer McQuiston Many reviewers are comparing this book to the movie The Hangover. It's a good comparison. Lady Georgette Thorold is in Scotland visiting her cousin. She wakes up one morning in a strange bed with a strange man wearing a wedding ring. She has no memory of the night before. When he wakes up, instead of asking him what happened, she freaks out and runs.

James McKenzie is not much better off. When he wakes up, he doesn't have complete memory of the night before either. And then he is bashed over the head and knocked out by the woman he wakes up with.

Once Georgette regains her composure, she goes on a mission to find out what happened the evening before and who the man is that she supposedly married. James is also on the hunt for Georgette, thinking her a thief. They spend the first half of the book making their ways around the village working out what exactly happened.

It's a really cute story. The hero and heroine spend half the book apart, but the journey to their reunion is fun. Once they are together and after James realizes Georgette is not quite who he expected, the story takes a very sweet turn.

Also we get a bearded hero for once. I liked that.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.
Dreams and Shadows - C. Robert Cargill This book opens with a tragic story. It is a story about a happy couple living in Austin with a happy baby, who, one night, is taken by a faerie. A changeling is left in his place. We meet up with the boy, Ewan, eight years later as he lives happily and oblivious among the fae. This is also the story of another little boy, Colby. Colby's life is changed one day while he is wandering around the woods. He meets a djinn named Yashar who gives him one wish. What he wishes for will bring him to Ewan and the fae. But this story is not only Ewan and Colby's. The changeling at the beginning of the story beats the odds and grows to be a conniving, jealous faerie boy named Knocks. In the first half of the book we watch Ewan, Colby, and Knock's lives collide in Hill Country among the fae. We meet up with them again fourteen years later as young men living in Austin; Ewan and Colby have not left the world of the fae behind.

I love urban fantasies that center on the fae. They are such deviant creatures, living outside mankind's views of good and evil. Cargill presents a dark, fascinating look into the fae. It's one of those stories where you'd be more surprised if everyone survived by the end. It's a bleak story, but also enchanting. I found myself sympathizing with the monsters, while still hoping for happy endings for Ewan and Colby.

Favorite quote:

Monsters are everywhere. They're people, they're nightmares. They're jealous viziers. They are the things that we harbor within ourselves. If you remember one thing, even above remembering me, remember that there is not a monster dreamt that hasn't walked once within the soul of a man.

ARC provided through Edelweiss
Dark Dealings - Kim Knox From the description, I thought this book might be all sex. But it's not. It's darkly erotic, but sex doesn't overpower the story.

So this story is dark fantasy romance/erotica. Ava is a Thief. She devours magic, mostly through cannibalism. She keeps her hunger under control, though lately it has been getting harder and harder. She's in love with the mage, Reist. He found her living on the street and took her in at the Institute and now she works as his spy. But lately she has had to watch him fall in love with another mage and it's tearing her apart. In desperation she goes to Heyerdar. He is an Elemental, a person with old magic. Heyerdar has an interest in breaking them up too; the mage sleeping with Reist left Heyerdar for Reist. Ana and Heyerdar can use their magic together to push the two apart.

That's not the only reason these two come together, though. Thieves, like Ana, have gotten past the wards and into the city. They've already murdered a family. Ana is assigned to work with Heyerdar, as he's the Captain of the Imperial Guard, to find the killers.

Heyerdar can be quite crude. He's not always very nice to Ana, but it's obvious he's pushing Ana to see how she is being used by others and really, to be her own person. I liked these two together a lot, and couldn't wait for Ana to realize her own true feelings.

Between the sex magic and cannibalism, it's a dark story. It's very well written and the characters are fascinating. I wish there had been a bit more world building. And I found Ana's back story a little confusing. But other than that, I enjoyed this story very much.
The Importance of Being Wicked - Victoria Alexander Enjoyed the premise; I like historical romances with women doing unconventional occupations for the time period. In this case our heroine, Lady Miranda Garrett, is an architect, though nobody outside the company knows she's doing this work.

The characters were pretty disappointing, though. Winfield Elliott is supposed to be very wicked and a ladies man. But his character plays more awkward than wicked. We really only get to hear about his wicked ways and not experience them. And the only thing I really found interesting about Miranda was her neat occupation.

I will say I did like Win's reaction to finding out Miranda is the architect. It was the complete opposite of what I was expecting. It was the only time I really liked this character.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Touch of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #5) - Diana Rowland I really really like where Rowland is taking this series. It's brilliant and exciting. The previous books as paranormal police procedurals were very entertaining, but this book, almost completely set in the demon realm, was extremely fascinating. And, holy schnikes, does Kara's world get flipped, and mine a little too. Some things I didn't want to be true. But, really, I ain't even mad; it's too good of a story.

This one doesn't end with a maddening cliffhanger like the last one, but I'm still very much looking forward to seeing what Rowland comes up with next.
Winterblaze - Kristen Callihan I love reading romances with married couples reconnecting. Poppy and Winston were happily married until Winston found out his wife was keeping secrets. Those secrets came out in the last book after Winston was attacked by a werewolf. Now he is scarred and very very angry at Poppy. But after a separation they are thrust back together when Poppy realizes a demon is after Winston. She will do whatever she can to keep him safe.

I've liked smart, collected Poppy since book one. So it hurt to watch her deal with Winston's anger, even if Winston's anger is a bit justified. Poppy kept her secrets for over a decade, secrets that are huge part of Poppy. I'd be angry too. It was fun watching them reconcile. Winston's changed since his attack. He's more intense, and he brings that intensity into their relationship. Their reunion is very passionate.

I loved the flashbacks to when they first met and their courtship. They definitely added to their story and showed just how much they have grown. Also, it was just nice seeing how they met.

I coveted the parts with Mary and Jack. I adore Jack and can't wait for their book.

Callihan has done such a lovely job combining two of my favorite types of romances - historical and paranormal. And I thank her for that.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover - Sarah MacLean This one was so much fun to read. I love historicals with smart heroines and Lady Philippa Marbury is a very smart woman. She knows she is odd compared to her peers. She likes to study anatomy and horticulture. She is engaged to Lord Castleton and is very worried about her marital duties. She is not sure what to fully expect and she is the type of person who likes to analyze and get all the details. She knows anatomy and has seen animals mate before, but thinks there must be more to procreation for humans. She decides an experiment is in order. She will learn all she can before her wedding day. And she thinks she has the perfect experiment partner - Cross, part owner of a gaming den with her brother-in-law. He has quite the reputation among the ladies.

Cross is absolutely captivated by Pippa when she shows up at his office with a proposition to learn all about sex from him. But he refuses. He doesn't think she deserves his darkness. Pippa, though, ends up finding her way into his life over and over again. And Cross finds it harder and harder to keep his hands off her. As for Pippa, the more time she spends with Cross, the more she realizes just how passionless her marriage to Castleton will be.

Cross is a tortured hero. But I love the way he sees and adores Pippa. He likes her oddities. He likes the way her brain works, her honesty, and forthrightness. He even finds her spectacles very sexy.

I enjoy historical romances that have the heroine saving the day. Cross sacrifices and Pippa plans. She's not giving up on happiness and a marriage with passion.

This is another great book by MacLean.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.

Currently reading

A Storm of Swords
George R.R. Martin
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy)
Sherry Thomas
The Way of Kings
Brandon Sanderson