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Review: THE PRINCE AND I by Karen Hawkins

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

A Robin Hood retelling with a twist! Karen Hawkins‘ latest installment in the Oxenburg series, The Prince and I, features a colourful cast of characters…

Gregori Romanovin, Oxenburg’s warrior prince, is escorting his grandmother to a house party deep in the Highlands when he and his entourage are robbed at sword point by a group of ruffians led by a man the locals have dubbed “The Scottish Robin Hood.” The battle-savvy prince instantly realizes there’s something different about this thief, and it’s not just the Scottish accent—it’s the fact that “he” is really a “she.”

Lady Murian, a young widow out for revenge against the powerful earl who killed her husband and stole his birthright, is now living in the woods with her family’s banished retainers. To stay alive, she and her band of men rob rich nobles coming to visit the evil earl. But when she ambushes the Prince of Oxenburg’s golden coach, she gets far more than she expected. For when the prince uncovers her true identity, she’s afraid that he might be the real thief…of her heart.

I’ve been waiting a long time for Prince Gregori – the scarred warrior prince of Oxenburg’s story, and The Prince and I  delivers an entertaining backstory. Prince Gregori was the highlight of the novel for me. He is an impressive character, who is loyal to both his family and later to Muriel as well. Although described as physically strong and heroic, he’s a realistic character who admits his faults and can actually apologize for when he becomes a bit high-handed:

Max looked past her to the village where his men worked, and suddenly he saw it through her eyes. Who was he to ride into her village like some arrogant knight on a white horse and, without consulting her or anyone else, “fix” everything in sight?

“I should have asked. I’m sorry.”

Gregori was a refreshing character. Funny and witty…he’s not easily fooled by anyone, especially not the villain of the novel. Though a renowned war hero and a prince, his retains his humour and does not view everything with cynicism.

Muriel was also an interesting character. Her actions as “Robin Hood” would certainly have been more entertaining for me if Gregori hadn’t stolen the show. There is nothing wrong with Muriel as a heroine. She’s a sympathetic character, who takes fate into her own hands and takes measure to rescue herself and her loved ones from their circumstances. She portrays her loyalty in a myriad of ways and she is creative and ingenious.

But…

Gregori!

He literally stole the show from his own love interest – at least for me. From the second Gregori and his grandmother appeared on the scene in their carriage to the moments later when they were getting held up by highwaymen, his character literally leapt off the page.

The supporting cast and their subplots, especially Tata Natasha’s were captivating in there own way, but truly no one captivated me in quite the same way as Prince Gregori of Oxenburg!

For him alone, I name this a great summer read!

RATING - 4

A Psy Net Special…Nalini Singh Visits Vancouver!

Nalini Singh and Me

I think I speak for the entire audience at the Book Warehouse last night when I say that Nalini Singh was an amazing speaker during her first ever visit to Vancouver. Not only did she bring some amazing goodies for her readers, she was warm and witty. Eager readers also got some burning questions answered…though some may lead to fangirl angst, such as in the case of the Guild Hunter series – but more on that later.

Starting with some of the highlights of the night…

  • It was once again confirmed that the Psy/Changeling series is going to be a very loooong running series.
  • Ms. Singh has written a novella about the Territorial Wars. However, no one but Ms. Singh had laid eyes on it because, according to her, there is something missing and until it’s perfect she refuses to submit it to her editor. (Oh, Ms. Singh, as if you could write anything less than perfect!)
  • We will be learning something about the mating bond between Riaz and Adria in the next Psy/Changeling novel. She refused to give an answer about whether or not it is possible for them to have a mating bond at the signing – as it will be a spoiler for the upcoming novel.
  • Also Ms. Singh did share some news about the next book in the Psy/Changeling series, stating that it would be a book about family and pack.

  • For the Guild Hunter series, all of the seven will be in a happy place when the series concludes – though they may not necessarily find a love interest.
  • Ms. Singh also mentioned that she has signed a contract for two more Guild Hunter novels, and states that there will be a third – though the possibility of a fourth is uncertain.

Now for the biggest lowlight of the night…avert your eyes if you are easily depressed…

  • The Guild Hunter series will not be as long as the Psy/Changeling series, only a few more novels at most as it is a single arc series. (I find this particularly sad because Angel’s Blood was the novel that started by Nalini Singh Fangirl Craze – and Elena will always be one of my favourite characters. On the other hand, I understand Ms. Singh’s sentiments to end the series will a high note, even if it will mean tears for her and me.).

And last but not least, Ms. Singh gave up the names of some of her favourite authors:

  1. J D Robb
  2. Anne McCaffrey
  3. Laura Florands
  4. Sharon Lee
  5. Sonali Dev
  6. Meljean Brook
  7. Illona Andrews
  8. Anne Gracie
  9. Jayne Ann Krentz

Finally, among the series highlights (and lowlight), Ms. Singh shared some advice for writers and some of her tips for staying motivated and focused while working on a novel.

The night was truly inspiring and fun. It was great to meet fellow fans and share our love of the worlds Ms. Singh has created!

Autographed Shards of Hope

Biggest highlight of my night was getting my very first autographed Nalini Singh book!

Nalini Singh Book Pins

…but the swag was pretty awesome, too!

I hope you visit Vancouver again, Ms. Singh!

Rika Ashton

(aka “I may or may not have fainted when Nalini Singh walked into the room.”)

P.S: I should also mention that it was awesome to meet the very mysterious Ashwini Singh, even though I was too star-struck to start a proper conversation! (Next time, Ashwini, next time…)

Blurb Reveal: TILL DEATH DO US PART by Amanda Quick

When I read book news, there are few things that get me as excited as reading about an upcoming Amanda Quick release! I recently came across a blurb for the third book in the Ladies of Lantern Street series, Till Death Do Us Part, on Goodreads and I just had to share the news with you all!

Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.

Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.

But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker…

The novel is slated for release on April 19th, 2016 – yes, 2016 – so we have quite a wait ahead of us…

On a side note, who else is psyched for the upcoming release of Siren’s Call under Ms. Quick’s pen name Jayne Castle on July 28th?

Rika Ashton

(aka Lantern Street Resident)

Cover Reveal: The Beast: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward

Rika Ashton:

Hi all,

Thought I’d share this blog post about J. R. Ward’s upcoming Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, The Beast. Some very interesting tidbits in this post.

Enjoy!

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Lazy-ass Reblogger)

Originally posted on Reading in Pajamas:

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The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14)

by J.R. Ward

Book will feature Rhage and Mary

RELEASING APRIL 5, 2016

ADD TO GOODREADS

AMAZON http://amzn.to/1CGbuPU

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I’m so excited for this one! I love Rhage and Mary! Love them! There is now a description on goodreads and there is an Amazon link as well but you can’t ore-order yet. You can add to your Goodreads TBR. You can friend us or follow us on goodreads as well. /Cori

 

READING IN PAJAMAS GOODREADS

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His name is Rhage—the deadliest fighter and most voracious lover of all the Brotherhood, whose inner beast could never be tamed. But Rhage found his eternal love in Mary Luce, a woman who once bore a life-threatening curse, while dreaming of eternity with her vampire warrior and protector.

They’ve made it to hell and back. Now their story continues in a new novel sure to draw fans back into…

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Review: THE ART OF SINNING by Sabrina Jeffries

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher. (Also, beware of spoilers…maybe…)

What happens when you pair an American artist who looks like Adonis with an opinionated, but kindhearted lady of the ton? Well, nothing less than a masterpiece called The Art of Sinning to be sure!

American artist Jeremy Keane refuses to return home and take over his father’s business. He’d much rather sample bevvies of beauties abroad, in search of a model for the provocative masterpiece he’s driven to paint. When he meets Lady Yvette Barlow at a London wedding, he realizes she’s perfect for his work—and determines to capture the young heiress’s defiant spirit and breathtaking sensuality on canvas.

No stranger to scandal, Yvette agrees to be Keane’s subject—in exchange for his help gaining entry to the city’s brothels he knows intimately, so she can track a missing woman and solve a family mystery. But when their practical partnership leads to lessons in the art of sinning, can they find a bold and lasting love?

The first book in Sabrina Jeffries new series, Sinful Suitors, is certainly a work of art…not to mention that cover! (Is anybody else falling deeper in love with Jeremy just staring at the cover?)

But, truthfully, Jeremy is more than just a pretty face. He’s witty, charming, wicked, and not to mention, downright hilarious at times. Though he is rumoured to be a rakehell, Jeremy proves himself to be a decent and (contrary to his own opinion of himself) selfless.

Yvette is an equally “arresting” character. Wary of rogues and men in general, Yvette is skeptical of Jeremy’s intentions.

Mr. Keane’s warm gaze poured over her like honey. “I don’t recall ever seeing you at my exhibit. Trust me, I would have remembered.”

A shiver danced down her spine before she could steel herself against reacting. Very nicely done. She’d have to be on her toes with this one. “We attended it in the morning. I daresay you were still lying foxed in some gaming hell or nunnery.”

“Good God, here we go,” Edwin [Yvette’s  brother] muttered under his breath,  recognizing the vulgar slang for bawdy house.

“I am rarely foxed and never in a nunnery,” Mr. Keane retorted, “for fear that it might tempt the ‘nuns’ to bite me.”

“I should love to know what you consider ‘rarely,'” Yvette said. “That you even know that ‘bite’ means ‘cheat’ in street cant shows how you must spend your days.”

“And how you must spend yours,” he said with a gleam in his eye. “After all, you know the terms, too.”

Though Yvette and Jeremy have a mutual attraction to one another, they each hold back for different reasons. Yvette is wary of rogues in general because of both the scandal that haunts her family and her own past. Likewise, Jeremy is also haunted my the memories of his first marriage and home. And, though, Jeremy’s past is shaded with death, I still felt that Yvette’s past was more heartbreaking – especially after the full truth is revealed towards the end of the novel. It went completely against my expectations of a family reunion – and it showed how much of a scoundrel Yvette’s disowned brother, Samuel, truly was. Samuel is, in some ways, the true villain of this novel even though his is not physically present on the story.

But it goes to show that a well-written villain still has the ability to manipulate others, even from a distance.

It isn’t until they individually overcome their pasts that Jeremy and Yvette can admit what they feel for the other. Both characters grow stronger in the course of the narrative and the reader is witness to both a tale of friendship and love.

Speaking of friendship, the growing bromance between Jeremy and Edwin was equally as touching (and funny) as the interactions between Jeremy and Yvette. Brought together by their individual wariness (aka fear) of their sisters, Edwin and Jeremy decide to open their own club…but that is a tale for another time. (No, really, Ms. Jeffries should write a novel based solely on the interaction between these two because they are so entertaining….it’s like watching a sketch comedy!)

The Art of Sinning is an imaginary masterpiece that combines humour and romance, and is home to a cast of characters with honourable intentions – some of which are hilariously misguided. A summer must-read!

RATING - 5 And look out for Edwin’s novel, The Study of Seduction, soon!

Study of Seduction

Rika Ashton

(aka Jeremy’s Muse – though he knows it not!)

June’s Book of the Month…

Rika Ashton:

So many great reads coming in June!! But its no surprise that Nalini Singh’s Shards of Hope is getting my vote…I’ve been talking about this book for months.

-Rika Ashton

(aka Unashamed Fangirl)

Originally posted on Wicked Scribes:

It looks like we are closing in on the half-way point of 2015, which is really, really scary. On the positive side, there are some great books to look forward to. To be honest, I figure that the results of the book of the month poll for June is pretty much a foregone conclusion, but I have been wrong before. I have chosen 10 titles to choose from, but if you have another pick just click on “Other” and leave your selection in the comments section below. A complete list of June’s releases can be found HERE.

As always, the book chosen as June’s Book of the Month will be offered as a giveaway at the first of the month.

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What Do We Know…

That is today’s question…well, more precisely, the question is “What do we know about Kresley Cole‘s upcoming Immortals After Dark novel, Sweet Ruin?”

I know what I know…which is ZIP…

ZERO…

ZILCH!

No, really, I clearly have not been keeping up with the forums so when I saw the cover and title earlier today, I was baffled.

So I should probably rephrase the question and instead of asking “what do we know,” I should probably be asking “what do you know?”

Because what you know is what I want to know…

Get it…

Got it…

Great!

So please, please, please share!

Rika Ashton

(aka The Informationless Blogger)

Cover Reveal: COLD-HEARTED RAKE by Lisa Kleypas

We have a quick cover reveal for Lisa Kleypas‘ upcoming historical novel – SQUEEEEEE! – Cold-Hearted Rake:

A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

Anyone else looking forward to this one?

Rika Ashton

(aka Brief Blogger…”Oh Gods, I just realized how that sounded!”)

Avengers: Age of Ultron…A Movie Review

NOTE: This review may contain spoilers – pesky things, really – so read with caution.

I had the privilege of watching Avengers: Age of Ultron tonight and decided to write a quick post about with my “reactive review.”

Though I wouldn’t necessarily say that Marvel outdid itself with the latest installment of Avengers, it was an entertaining film. Avengers: Age of Ultron had the signature humour one would expect from a Marvel film – with Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.) providing much of the comic relief in the film. The film also did a great job of introducing original origin stories for two well-known characters: Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Another new character, the Vision, also had a spectacular debut. Not to mention, the villain – Ultron – was nothing to sneeze at…

So why did it feel as if something was missing?

Well, something – or rather someone – was missing…and I think (with all the spoilers and discussion going around) we can all guess who…

Loki, of course.

I knew going in that Loki wasn’t going to have a role in the film – Joss Whedon had already discussed that (with his reasons) at length, but I was hoping that another character would make up for the lack…but, alas, it seems that Loki is hard to replace.

Though, I guess he was there in spirit since his staff played quite an important role in the film.

But I also felt that Thor was underdeveloped/underused in this film. (It seems that the Asgardians just couldn’t get a break in this film.)

While its true that Thor plays an important role in discovering the existence of the infinity stone and in the creation of the Vision, he otherwise delegated to action sequences rather than having his own personal narrative. On the other hand, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye are heavily explored as characters – which is a refreshing turn of events.

Another refreshing change in the film was Ultron. Despite this film’s villain being a man-made and completely avoidable disaster, Ultron made sure that the heroes had to work to bring him down. He was unpredictable and a force to be reckoned with. Plus, he one-liners were funny. :)

Overall, Avengers: Age of Ultron packs a “mighty punch” with its flawlessly executed CGI and cinematography. It was highly entertaining and, judging by the cheer that went up in our theatre tonight, a crowd favourite!

Rika Ashton

(aka Film Critic)

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