A Review of The Masterful Mr. Montague by Stephanie Laurens

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and, as always, be wary of spoilers.

The Blurb:

Montague has devoted his life to managing the wealth of London’s elite, but at a huge cost: a family of his own. Then the enticing Miss Violet Matcham seeks his help, and in the puzzle she presents him, he finds an intriguing new challenge professionally … and personally.

Violet, devoted lady-companion to the aging Lady Halstead, turns to Montague to reassure her ladyship that her affairs are in order. But the famous Montague is not at all what she’d expected – this man is compelling, decisive, supportive, and strong – everything Violet needs in a champion, a position to which Montague rapidly lays claim.

But then Lady Halstead is murdered and Violet and Montague, aided by Barnaby Adair, Inspector Stokes, Penelope, and Griselda, race to expose a cunning and cold-blooded killer.who stalks closer and closer. Will Montague and Violet learn the shocking truth too late to seize their chance at enduring love?

The Review:

I’ve been waiting for another Barnaby Adair novel for what feels like ages now, so when I first read the blurb for The Masterful Mr. Montague, I was a little disappointed. Not because it didn’t seem to hint at an interesting story line, but because the mention of Barnaby and Penelope and the gang seemed like an after thought. After reading the blurb I thought the novel would focus more on the story between Violet and Montague, but once I read the book I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was very, very wrong. :)

The novel’s got a nice balance between the Barnaby and Penelope romance and mystery angle, and the budding romance between Violet and Montague. We get to see how Penelope and Barnaby are adjusting to married life, but they are the same mystery pursuing couple as they were in Where the Heart Leads (the first Casebook of Barnaby Adair novel). We also get some Cynster action in this novel, and while I did miss seeing Devil Cynster, I was happy to catch-up with the Cynster ladies.

The mystery elements in this novel were well-developed. There didn’t seem to be an obvious suspect, so it was great working alongside the characters to figure out the identity of Lady Halstead’s killer. Every time I felt like I got close to figuring out the killer, I was thrown for a loop – in a good way!

The romance between Violet and Montague was also pleasant and sweet, but for me personally Barnaby and Penelope stole the show. And then, of course, there was Stokes and Griselda…Griselda stood out a lot more in this novel than the previous one, and we get to know her character more slowly.

I know I’ve made a lot of references to Where the Heart Leads, so I know the obvious question now is: Can this be read as a standalone? Yes, absolutely! The characters are reintroduced in this novel for new readers and, though for me the experience of having read the first novel made me appreciate this one all the more, the story is self-contained.

Overall, I give this novel a solid 4 out of 5 for being an unpredictable read while, at the same time, letting me catch up with much-loved characters!


-Rika Ashton

(aka The ARC Devourer)

Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost: A Night Prince News Post

Hi y’all,

We’ve finally got the title reveal for the third book in the Night Prince by Jeaniene Frost. The book is officially titled Bound by Flames.

Okay, so the title did break the pattern that Once Burned and Twice Tempted had set – I was thinking Thrice something…but since this is the FINAL book in the series, we are going out with a BANG!

I was very happy with the title – but honestly, with a hero like Vlad, the title could have been something extraordinarily sappy and I would still have preordered the book. (Release date: January 26, 2015)

But that’s not all, Ms. Frost also gave us a teaser of the step back art featuring Paul Marron as Vlad:

Ah, Leila and Vlad – the only couple who could compete with Cat and Bones in the Night Huntress world, at least in my humble opinion.

Also, for a final news headline – IAN!!!!!!!!

Ms. Frost is working on Ian’s novel, but there’s nothing official yet. The heroine’s been decided and the writing is underway, but she’s not making promises that Ian’s novel will be published until everything’s in place. So my advice, let’s keep our fingers crossed!

And that’s all the Night Prince/Night Huntress news I have for now. To read the full post where Ms. Frost revealed the title and art, go here.

If you’ve got your own spoilers to share, please leave a comment below. 

-Rika Ashton

(aka Book Reporter)

The Kraken King by Meljean Brook: A Review of Parts 1 and 2

Disclaimer: I received the first two parts of this serialized novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Also, because this is a serialized novel, there may be spoilers about part one in the part two review. 

Got my hands on my first every Meljean Brook novel – or rather I should say serial novel – a few weeks ago.


The Kraken King and the Scribbling Spinster is the first part of a eight part serialized novel, set in an alternate universe with steampunk elements:

A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…

After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes. But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…

The first part was exiting and mysterious – a lot of secrets to go around. As the reader, we know a few that Zenobia is keeping, but Ariq is almost completely in the dark. We know that Zenobia is travelling as Geraldine, a widow, though of course she’s actually a spinster who pens novels. Zenobia agrees to the journey, thinking it’ll be dull, but it actually morphs into an adventure like the ones she writes about.

And in comes Ariq. He rescues Zenobia, who wants nothing more than to stay off his radar, but that only makes Ariq more determined and intrigued.

Zenobia and Ariq have amazing character chemistry right of the bat and are pretty much on the same level when it comes to all the banter in the novel. (I swear when they one-up each other during some of the dialogue, I channeled Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – “Bazinga!”)

But basically, the first part of the novel served as a teaser for all the great things to come in the later parts…and, boy, am I ever excited!


The second part of the novel, The Kraken King and the Abominable Worm, was equally as entertaining:

As they continue their expedition across Australia, Ariq is determined to stay close to
Zenobia and figure out what kind of game she’s playing—even as his admiration for the enigmatic woman starts to override his suspicion.

For Zenobia, revealing her identity to a man who once made his living outside of the law is out of the question—even though Ariq’s dashing looks and blunt manner are distractingly appealing.

But before anyone’s secrets or desires can be exposed, an unexpected attack threatens to destroy them all…

OMG! The world building in this series! My inner escapist geek couldn’t have been more delighted.

We also get to learn more about the characters in part two, such as how Ariq earned the nickname of “The Kraken King” and Zenobia’s quick wit and bravery. And I was actually starting to like Helene, Zenobia’s travelling companion, by this part of the novel. And the lust between Zenobia and Ariq continues to scorch.

The only complaint I could possibly have about The Kraken King is that it is a serialized novel and the wait for part three is going to be killer. Not that it’s going to stop me from rereading parts one and two again and reliving the adventure we’ve been introduced to. I give parts one and two of The Kraken King 5/5 – they were a strong start to an original story and I can’t wait to see what the next parts have in store!


And to see all the animated covers go here.

-Rika Ashton

(aka “I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to read a novel by Meljean Brook!”)

P.S: To learn more about the new review policy and how to make a request, go here.

Site Updates and Book Talk

We finally got the contact form up and running a few days ago, so if you have feedback/questions, etc you would like to submit, you are now more than welcome to do so. Mostly, I have thank Chaos for getting this fixed. This is why I pay you the not-so-big-bucks, dude! :P

We’ve also got the review policy up – although, we might make some minor changes in the future to cover any unforseeable loopholes, etc.

And last but not least, we’ve decided to add a consolidated page for all Dagger of the Sun info. This pretty much includes all excerpts/teasers from the new version, maps, character interviews, and character profiles. We’ll continue posting them through the regular blog as well, but we’ll have a separate page as an online book bible so you can easily access all relevant posts. :D

Basically, we decided to do this because DOTS is turning out to be a very lengthy book, so keeping track of details is a HUGE issue as the story moves forward. I’m hoping – with Chaos’ help – that the online book bible will help keep me sane.

But we’ll post link to the page as soon as we have it up and running.

Before I sign off, I want to thank the amazing Kaleigha over at Wicked Scribes for sending me a copy of J. R. Ward’s The King – as my little bro would say I “junkied” this book like no one’s business and finished all 500+ pages in a day and a half. It was amazing! Also, for some reason, this book made me want to reread Lover Avenged – Rehvenge and Ehlena’s story – and I’m halfway through that as well. Love, love, love this couple! But I wish Ehlena got more scenes in other novels – she’s one of my favourite characters but she forgotten in the succeeding novels. (On the other hand, Rehv never seems to stop showing up – not that I mind – but I really wish he’d bring his mated with him more often. *sigh*)

What books are you all reading (or rereading) and loving? 

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Book Worm)

Guest Review – Gambling with the Crown by Lynn Raye Harris

Rika Ashton:

Posted another review over at RR@Heart: Novel Thoughts and book Talk. This one is for Lynn Raye Harris’ Gambling with the Crown.


-Rika Ashton

(aka Book Reviewer)

Originally posted on RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk:

A Review of Gambling with the Crown by Lynn Raye Harris

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Cover and Blurb:


UK Cover (left) and US Cover (right)

The crown of Kyr holds no appeal for pleasure-seeking sheikh Kadir al-Hassan—his memories of the kingdom are as dark as a desert’s night. But neither will he shirk his duty…. Instead, Kadir returns home with a bride so unsuitable, no one will want him to be king!

Long-suffering assistant Emily Bryant is the most important person in Kadir’s high-octane life, and the most invisible—until she’s promoted to royal bride! Sealing their marriage bargain with a scorching kiss leaves Kadir craving more….

Now Kadir must decide what’s really at stake in his royal game—his desert duty, or Emily!


Gambling with the Crown, the first in the “Heirs to the Throne of…

View original 381 more words

Guest Review – Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh

Rika Ashton:

My review of Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter for RR@Heart: Novel Thoughts and Book Talk. Go ahead and give it a read, though I would warn you about possible spoilers.

On another note, Ms. Singh posted the blurb for the upcoming Night Shift anthology on her Facebook page. It features Bastien’s story from the Psy/Changeling series:

Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark…

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight, as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella, Magic Steals, when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn’t a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.

It’s seer Makenna Frazier’s first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms.

Can’t wait to give this anthology a read, sounds like a great collection of stories!

-Rika Ashton

(aka “That’s Two Posts in One Day!”

Originally posted on RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk:

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review…and I’m going to try really, really hard to keep this post spoiler free.

Cover and Blurb:

SoWAssassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to suffocate her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But…

View original 413 more words

Blurb Reveal: Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole

Really quick update to let you know that while there is still no cover art, we finally have the UK blurb for the next Arcana Chronicles novel, Dead of Winter:

The Arcana Chronicles continue, and Evie Green, the Empress, has been taken by Death who is one of the most fearsome among the Tarot. But there is an even more dangerous Tarot heading right for them… The Lovers. Two twisted siblings who use cruelty and torture on allies and enemies alike. Evie, Death and Jack must band together to find and kill the Lovers, but tensions arise when Jack witnesses the close bond that has developed between the Endless Knight and Evie.

Oooh! Death, jealousy and (more than possible) mayhem…I think I’m really going to like this one.

If you haven’t started this series yet, check out the book trailer to see what it’s all about:

Now, if anyone else has some spoilers to share for Dead of Winter, please do. :)

-Rika Ashton

(The Blurb Revealer)

Site Updates


Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m making a few changes to the blog. I just thought it was time to update the review policy and come up with some coherent rating system for future reviews, especially since I’ve recently begun to juggle ARCs in addition to the regular writing load.

Chaos and I are trying to get the contact and review forms up and running. They are not working yet, so if you try to send a message I’m afraid your AMAZING FAN MAIL will, unfortunately,  be lost in cyberspace. (If you’re sending hate mail – likely to Chaos – he can only be thankful for this.)

But as soon as the forms are up and running we will let you know. :)

Till later,
Rika Ashton

(aka Web Admin)

Time for a Snack…Samosa Style!

I realized I hadn’t posted a recipe for a while, so I took a small break from writing the other day to do some cooking…or rather assistant cooking. My mom had to do most of the work on this one…I was too intent on eating the final product.

But when it was done, we did get some delicious samosas!

But my mom never uses measurements when she cooks, so it’s really hard to transcribe into a repeatable recipe. Instead, I found a recipe online and modified it based on my mom’s ingredients. (She read over it and said it sounds right, so I hope that the samosas taste the same…Luckily, when making Indian food, the seasoning is usually to taste so you have a lot of leeway.)



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup warm water

Note: You may need to increase/decrease the amount of vegetable oil and water depending. The pastry dough should not stick to your hands when you start to roll it out.

Also, if you have limited time, you can buy tortilla wraps from the store and use them as a substitute for home-made pastry. (Of course, the homemade stuff tastes much better.)


  • 2 ½ cups peeled and diced potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • salt and pepper to taste



1. For pastry shell, combine flour, salt and a pinch of fennel seed.

2. Stir in oil, then stir in warm water.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, for about 5-6 minutes, until dough is elastic.

4. Cover and set aside.


1. Boil potatoes uncovered in salted water until tender, then drain well and set aside.

2. In a large sauce pan, toast fennel, cumin and coriander seeds for 2 minutes. Add oil, then onion and sauté for 4 minutes, until onion is translucent. Stir in peas and cooked potatoes, mashing lightly to combine and warm, then season to taste.

3. Let filling cool.

4. To assemble samosas, divide dough into 12 equal portions and shape each portion into a ball.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 ball into a 6-inch circle. Cut circle in half.

6. Fold 1 corner of semicircle up and over middle. Fold second corner over to make triangle, and pinch corners of triangle to seal (leave rounded side open). Hold triangle in your hand with open rounded side facing up and let dough fall open to make cone.

7. Fill cone with approximately 2 tablespoons potato mixture, then fold over and pinch along rounded side to seal.

8. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and chill samosas until ready to cook.

9. Fill a pot with 2-inches of oil (make sure oil fills pot not more than halfway) and heat to 350 F. With tongs, place samosas in oil – be careful not to overfill pan, depending in the size of the pan about 3-4 samosas at a time is enough – and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.

10. Remove onto a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

11. Samosas can be served warm with mango or mint chutney, or with a prepared chickpea dip.


And finally, yum!!!!!!!!


Enjoy! This is the perfect appetizer for parties. :)

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Assistant Chef)

Sneak Peek: SHIELD OF WINTER by Nalini Singh

Going to keep this really short…I promise!

I’ve just come briefly out of my hermit cave to say that Nalini Singh sent out her March newsletter this morning and, as promised, it included an excerpt of Shield of Winter. This excerpt is for all of chapter one from the novel. (And next month, she’s promised us chapter two! I can only hope this means we get to meet Ivy Jane.)

Want to read the sneak peek, click here!

I also previously posted some possible spoilers for this book here. But if you’ve heard some more spoilers please do share – inquiring minds want to know!

Are you more excited than ever to read this book or what? And what do we think of Vasic?

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Stealthy Sneak Peeker)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,688 other followers

%d bloggers like this: