Posts tagged “ARC

Review: THE WIDOW’S AUCTION by Sabrina Jeffries

Disclaimer: I received a digital arc of this novella in exchange for an honest review. 

28803825Sabrina Jeffries’ The Widow’s Auction was re-released today, but you may have previously read the story in the Fantasy anthology.

Though Isobel Lamberton, the widowed Lady Kingsley, is confounded by her dealings with the obstinate Justin Antony, Lord Warbrooke, his commanding presence sparks something deep within her. But such romantic thoughts are for naught. For Justin’s political aspirations always come first. And Isobel’s own secret past could damage both of them permanently.

So when Isobel’s friend talks her into participating in a scandalous auction of masked widows at a gentleman’s club, she reluctantly agrees…and soon begins to relish being an object of desire. But none desire her more than Justin, who recognizes the outspoken Isobel in disguise and sets out to teach her a lesson worth far more than money…

I remember reading this novella in the anthology but, even now, years later it has not lost it’s charm. Short and sweet, the novella features two complex, compatible characters – Isobel and Justin – whose interactions are riddled with humour and romance. Though the novella is told in first person, there is a greater focus on Isobel’s character and we see Justin mainly through her eyes. I would have liked to know more about his thoughts, but for the short length of the story, his character was developed quite well. As is the case with most well-written novella’s, the story does leave you wanting more. However, if you’re looking for s quick escape this summer, then The Widow’s Auction is a neat little trip back to the Regency era.

RATING - 3

 

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Review: WHAT HAPPENS UNDER THE MISTLETOE

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this anthology in exchange for an honest review.

What Happens Under the Mistletoe is a delightful, Christmas-themed anthology perfect for snuggling up in a warm blanket on a chilly day…or any other day for that matter!

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’s delightful yuletide story, The Heiress and the Hothead.

In the snowy Scottish countryside, Karen Hawkins’s rakish duke has an unforgettable holiday encounter in Twelve Kisses when the alluring lady he surprises under the mistletoe is not who he expected, but a long-lost love with a score to settle.

In By Any Other Name, Edinburgh is aglitter for Christmastime as Candace Camp sends a curious gentleman in hot pursuit of an intriguing lady in disguise—one who refuses to reveal her true identity, though she fears he has already stolen her heart with his kiss.

In Sweet Ruin, will the festive spirit of the season sweep Meredith Duran’s feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue whose carelessness soiled her reputation and sent her into exile in London?

The book gave me a chance to return to the worlds of Karen Hawkins and Sabrina Jeffries, as well as introducing me to the newer writing styles of Meredith Duran and Candace Camp.

In “The Heiress and the Hothead” by Sabrina Jeffries, we get a closer look at Amanda Keane – sister of Jeremy Keane (from the Art of Sinning). Amanda is the owner of a cotton mill in America and her hero, Stephen, writes about the abuse of cotton mill workers in England. They are electric from the moment they meet and share a kiss under the mistletoe. The amount of history research that Ms. Jeffries packed into the novella is astounding, and yet it does not take away from the pleasure of the romantic elements in the story. The history background enhances the experience for the reader, and adds a sense of realism to the “The Heiress and the Hothead.”

Karen Hawkins’ “Twelve Kisses” is an equally delightful story. The characters Marcus and Kenna are reunited after 10 years and one stolen kiss under the mistletoe proves that these two have some unfinished business. Despite the short length of the novella, Ms. Hawkins is able to inject her signature humour and wit into a Scottish romance.The romance of the two characters is helped along with the aid of a fairy godmother – none other that the Grand Duchess from the Oxenburg series – who will make a fortune of her cupid-esque skills one day.

Candace Camp’s “By Any Other Name” is an entertaining read. It features a case of mistaken identity, but will with a lighter twist. The heroine, Rylla Campbell, sneaks away dressed in her brother’s clothes, who she is searching for. She meets with misfortune when leaving a gaming club during her search and is rescued by the hero, Gregory. It’s love at first sight for the hero – a refreshing change – but it’s not so easy for him to win Rylla’s love in return (an interesting prospect for the reader because it proves to be delightfully entertaining).

In “Sweet Ruin” by Meredith Duran, a story about a bluestocking daughter of a peer and a commoner, we have a tale of epic proportions. The distinct social backgrounds of the characters provides an engaging backdrop for the tale of a a stolen letter and a diplomatic mission. The story is engaging and full of witty banter. However, it’s short length let me wanting more.

I highly recommend this book to those looking for a light holiday read that will leave you with a feel-good mood!

RATING - 4


Release Day Review: A VERY LEVET CHRISTMAS by Alexandra Ivy

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

Christmas comes a little early with the release of Alexandra Ivy’s A Very Levet Christmas!

The Blurb:

A gargoyle of Levet’s charm and intelligence should not be facing a solitary Christmas. True, he may appear a little unconventional, not to mention unconventionally little even for a gargoyle. But what Levet lacks in height he makes up for in loyalty, and being banned from the festivities surrounding the Queen of Weres’ new pups is quite unfair.

So when a beautiful Christmas angel begs for help in fulfilling her duties, Levet has nothing better to do than agree. Armed with a magical wand, Levet confronts Damon, a pureblood Were intent on seizing the throne. Challenging the King will put the pups at risk and drive away Damon’s potential mate, Gia. Who better to convince Damon to choose love, not war, than a gargoyle expert in “amour”? With a little magic, and a lot of Levet, this may yet be a truly wonderful Christmastime.

The Review:

Ms. Ivy releases a short, but sweet novella with plenty of Christmas magic and mischief from the resident gargoyle of the Guardians of Eternity series, Levet, the novella’s hero.

The novella was written more along the lines of A Christmas Carol than a romance novel. Damon and Levet are the main focuses of this novel, with Damon playing a very Scrooge-like role with his dislike for Christmas. Gia, on the other hand, is rarely seen in the novel – her arrival in the end more of an afterthought than the main focus. Levet, with a little push from a Christmas Angel, is able to avert disaster and emerge a hero in the aftermath of a battle that never was.

However, despite the fact that the novel was not “romantic” in the traditional sense, readers are able to catch up with Salvatore, Styxx and the rest to celebrate the arrival of the Were King’s pups.

A Very Levet Christmas is a nice, light read that brings with it the joy of the Christmas season…in September!

RATING - 3


Review: ROCK COURTSHIP by Nalini Singh

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

rock courtship cover

Nalini Singh, queen of paranormal romance, has once again delved into the contemporary romance with Rock Courtship (a short novella in the Rock Kiss series) with David and Thea’s story.

The Blurb:

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients—or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

The Review:

Unlike the inferno that was Fox’s story in Rock Addiction, the romance that develops between Thea and David in Rock Courtship is much more of a slow burn that coalesces into an forest fire. 😉

The “Gentleman of Rock” well and truly earns his nickname in Rock Courtship. David has been in love with Thea for a very long time, but he’s been a friend to her much longer. David isn’t afraid of love or to love and we see how gentle, caring, and loyal he is as the story progresses. Ms. Singh did an exceptional job with his narrative and he, much more than Thea, was the protagonist of this story. We see a lot more of David than his love for Thea – we learn about his loyalty to his family, and his friends. The story behind the development of the Schoolboy Choir was explored in more detail in this novel and it was a nice, tongue-in-cheek, anecdote of the band’s friendship:

 “I was thinking about the choir tryout.” All four of them had sung flat and off-key on purpose that day, horrified at the idea of being in the choir. “Remember how Noah kept insisting he was a born singer before butchering the entire piece he was assigned?”

Abe scowled. “Fucker was smarter than I was.”

…David laughed… “You almost got yourself busted.”

“Give me a little credit – I’d never tried to sing off-key before. At least I didn’t pull the ‘I come from a deprived neighbourhood and don’t know what a choir is’ routine.”

David grinned at Abe’s reminder. Making an appearance of wide-eyed innocence, he’d asked to sing a Spanish song for his tryout – then dug out the rudest of the many ditties he’d heard on the construction sites when he’d tagged along with his father. “Best part was the way she actually clutched at her pearls when she realized what I was singing.”

“No, man – best part was Fox having that coughing fit because he couldn’t stop laughing, and Noah ‘helpfully’ translating for  the other kids. That’s when I knew we’d all be friends.” 

Reading about all the mischief that the band got up to as young boys almost makes me wish that Ms. Singh would write a novel about their early years…it would certainly be worth the read.

On the other hand, compared to David’s intriguing past, we didn’t learn anything new about Thea’s when compared to what we had already figured out based on the hints from Rock Addiction. Like David, Thea is loyal and confident. She’s someone who can handle the spotlight, but her strength is a front that hides her vulnerability. It isn’t a spoiler to say that Thea’s ex was a douche who left her afraid to trust another man with her heart, but that’s about all we learn about Thea – well, except for the ex’s name…it’s Eric, by the way.

The only real “mystery” in this novel was the content of David’s memos to Thea, which was actually the reason I wanted to badly to get my hands on this novel. Well, needless to say they were hot!

And here’s a snippet of what I mean by HOT:

…I think you’re hot. Extremely, combustibly hot. If I could, I’d keep you in bed for a week running, naked and mine, and I’d still not have enough. I think every part of you is hot, but I’m particularly turned on by your mind and your legs. You should see the fantasies I have of seducing your mind with my words while I stroke my hands over your legs, rub my fingertips along the inner skin of your thighs. 

The memos only getting hotter after that. 😉

I think HOT also describes this novel overall as well. This novel was David’s book more than Thea and he certainly did it justice. It had a sweet central romance and a plot that fit well into the length it was given – nothing rushed or too slow. My only complaint was that Thea came of as a little lackluster when compared to David, and because romance novels rely on both the complete characterization of the hero and heroine, I ended up giving this novel a rating of three out of five. A fun, respectable read!

RATING - 3

-Rika Ashton

P.S: There’s an excerpt of Rock Courtship up on Ms. Singh’s website and to read my review of the first novel, Rock Addiction, check out the Romance Reader at Heart blog. 🙂

© All excerpts in this post are property of Nalini Singh and may have been shortened to avoid spoilers. 


Review: THE PRINCE WHO LOVED ME by Karen Hawkins

Disclaimer: Rika’s Musings received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

What happens when Cinderella meets Karen Hawkins in The Prince Who Loved Me? Well, let’s just say that it involves plenty of classic Hawkins humour, a curse-wielding grandmother, and a prince who redefines the word HOT!

The Blurb:

A handsome, rakish prince who doesn’t believe in true love meets a stubborn lass who will settle for nothing less…In a lighthearted retelling of a classic fairy tale, bestselling author Karen Hawkins gives Cinderella a Scottish twist!

Prince Aleksey Romanovin enjoys his carefree life, flirting—and more—with every lovely lady who crosses his path. But when the interfering Grand Duchess Natasha decides it’s time for her grandson to wed, Aleksey finds himself in Scotland, determined to foil her plans. Brainy, bookish, and bespectacled, Bronwyn Murdoch seems the perfect answer—she isn’t at all to the duchess’ taste.

Living at the beck and call of her ambitious stepmother and social butterfly stepsisters, Bronwyn has little time for a handsome flirt—no matter how intoxicating his kisses are. After all, no spoiled, arrogant prince would be seriously interested in a firm-minded female like herself. So . . . wouldn’t it be fun to turn his “game” upside down and prove that an ordinary woman can bring a prince to his knees?

The Review:

The Prince Who Loved Me was funny, witty, and romantic. I enjoyed reading fairy tales as a child, but Ms. Hawkins’ twist on the classic tale of Cinderella is a fun read for adults. It may not have wicked stepsisters, but a matchmaking (and adorably meddlesome) grandmother leaves plenty of room for some hilarious drama!

Alexsey was a prince after my own heart. He might be a bit of a rake, but he’s a rake who enjoys reading! He seduces Bronwyn’s mind, and that pretty much makes him the sexiest thing since the invention of the printing press. 😉

The stranger’s smile widened into a grin, his teeth flashing white. His bold jaw, forged of raw masculinity and shadows by the lack of shave, indicated a determined character, confirmed by the nose of a caesar. High cheekbones slanted beneath eyes that held the hint of an exotic flare, and his skin was the golden hue of someone who’d spent many hours outdoors.

And now this paragon was walking towards her…

Alexsey was an intriguing characters since the moment of his first introduction, but when he promises to build Bronwyn a library – yes, a library – he pretty much wins over my heart.

“I will give you everything your heart desires. New gowns, a library full of books…”

And Bronwyn was completely deserving of Alexsey’s love. Despite being socially-awkward and a little shy, Bronwyn is surprisingly adventurous and courageous once she’s given her heart. Although both her stepmother and Alexsey’s grandmother erected barriers that may have discouraged any other girl from seeing her lover, Bronwyn’s determination meant she was able to overcome the obstacles. She certainly didn’t let any locked doors keep her trapped for long.

Ms. Hawkins’ also did a wonderful job of juxtaposing Alexsey and Bronwyn’s passionate love story, with the more chaste narrative of “The Black Duke” dispersed throughout the novel, at the beginning of every chapter. The heroine of the story-within-a-story, Lucinda, is more of a wilting violet and her self-afflicted helplessness is a great foil for Bronwyn’s character.

Behind Lucinda, the curtains stirred as a hand holding a knife appeared. With a harsh cry, Sir Mordred leapt from behind the curtains and plunged the knife toward Lucinda. Time froze. The youthful innocent stared in horror as the knife seemed to slowly arc toward her pure, untouched heart! And in that second, balanced so precariously between life and death, she thought of the one man who held that very heart, though he might not know it – brave Roland.

The flowery language that Ms. Hawkins purposefully uses to describe events in Lucinda’s story is a shared source of humour for the readers and the characters in The Prince Who Loved Me, making Bronwyn and Alexsey all the more complex and “real” to the reader.

The secondary cast of characters was equally as interesting as the main characters and there were certainly enough twists and turns in this novel to keep the reader wondering what was going to happen next and who would do what. Two characters in particular – and I won’t say who for fear of spoilage – kept me guessing what their motives were.

Overall, I can say that no one has every written a reinvention of Cinderella quite like The Prince Who Loved Me. Full of a colourful cast of characters and hilarious conflict, it certainly has my vote as a fall must-read with a rating of four out of five.

RATING - 4

Which fairy tale retelling do you think Ms. Hawkins should write about next? 

Prince Who Loved Me graphic

Preorder through Barnes and Noble, Amazon,or Chapters.

Rika Ashton

(aka Self-Proclaimed Librarian of Oxenburg)

© All excerpts used in this post are property of Karen Hawkins, and may have been shortened to avoid spoilers.


Cover Reveal: ROCK COURTSHIP by Nalini Singh

Welcome to the exclusive cover reveal for Nalini Singh‘s Rock Courtship! That’s right David – famously known as the “Gentleman of Rock” – and publicist Thea have their own story and we finally get to see what was written in those mysterious memos. I have a feeling that it’s going to be HOT! 😉

And speaking of hot…check out this cover:

rock courtship cover

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s new contemporary romance novella is pure hard rock and scorching heat…

What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients–or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

nalini bioRefreshingly enough, the “Gentleman of Rock” is actually fully dressed on the cover, which only makes him more fun to mentally undress! 😉

The good news is that it’s not too long a wait for the novella – it releases on September 30th, only a few more weeks to go. 😀

But if you’re like me and completely impatient, you can stop by Ms. Singh’s blog to find out how to sign up for ARCs of Rock Courtship. (I’ve already gotten my copy – yes, they work fast – and I’ll be posting a review soon.) And if you haven’t already read it, book one of the Rock Kiss series, Rock Addiction, was released earlier this week.

So what are we thinking of this cover? Love it, hate it, or couldn’t care less?

Rika Ashton

(aka Cover Lover)


Archangel’s Shadows Tidbits and Reaction…

Kaleigha, from Wicked Scribes, was kind enough to share her thoughts on Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh. The release date for this novel is October 28th – still a few months away, but it’s good to know that we have something in the interim to whet our appetites! 😀

Rika Ashton

(aka President of Kaleigha’s New Fan Club!)

Wicked Scribes

As I usually try to do on these types of posts, I have to start by saying that Nalini Singh is one of my favorite authors, to the point of it being a bit pathetic, actually. So does that mean that I go into anything she writes expecting it to be great? Yep. And she has never disappointed me yet. I was totally surprised to get an ARC of Archangel’s Shadows, and it was a one-sitting read. This will be a few spoiler-free glimpses, but I will assume that you are up-to-date with the events in Archangel’s Legion.

archangel's shadowSynopsis…

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are…

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Hanging with Levet on my ARC Shelf

Just got a arc of A Very Levet Christmas by Alexandra Ivy, and I am very psyched to start reading. Levet, is a very funny, very tiny gargoyle who annoys the heck of the heroes of the Guardians of Eternity series, but charms all the heroines. 😉

Blurb:

A gargoyle of Levet’s charm and intelligence should not be facing a solitary Christmas. True, he may appear a little unconventional, not to mention unconventionally little even for a gargoyle. But what Levet lacks in height he makes up for in loyalty, and being banned from the festivities surrounding the Queen of Weres’ new pups is quite unfair.

So when a beautiful Christmas angel begs for help in fulfilling her duties, Levet has nothing better to do than agree. Armed with a magical wand, Levet confronts Damon, a pureblood Were intent on seizing the throne. Challenging the King will put the pups at risk and drive away Damon’s potential mate, Gia. Who better to convince Damon to choose love, not war, than a gargoyle expert in “amour”? With a little magic, and a lot of Levet, this may yet be a truly wonderful Christmastime!

Excerpt shared by Ms. Ivy on Facebook earlier today:

Thoroughly annoyed, Levet folded his arms over his tiny chest, his large wings that shimmered in brilliant shades of blue and crimson with golden veins stretched out behind him.

“What do you mean I am not allowed to pass?” He tilted his head to make sure the moonlight captured the beauty of his stunted horns and handsome gargoyle features. He could only presume the thick-skulled hound didn’t recognize him. “Do you know who I am?”

“I don’t give a shit who you are.” Hess turned his head to spit on the newly fallen snow. “The King was very specific. Only family is given permission to enter the lair.”

Levet scowled. “But I am family.”

Hess narrowed his gaze, his breath sending out small puffs of icy fog. It was barely ten degrees but the cur was wearing jeans and a too-tight muscle shirt.

“You?”

“Oui. I am like a brother to Harley.” Levet pointed toward the large house on top of the hill, referring to the Queen of Weres and one of his dearest friends. “Go ask her.”

“Everyone knows that the Queen only has sisters,” Hess said. “No brothers.”

Levet rolled his eyes. Did Weres deliberately choose the stupidest humans to turn into curs?

“I said like a brother, you imbecile. Clearly we are not the same species.”

Hess gave low growl, reaching down to grab Levet by the horns and yank him off the ground.

“What did you call me?”

“Eek.” Levet dangled helplessly, his tail snapping furiously behind him. “Release me, you oversized Chihuahua.”

This one is sure to be a fun ride!

Rika Ashton

(aka Levet’s Sidekick)


Behold…The Beauty of the ARC

Guys!

The wonderful Kaleigha over at Wicked Scribes has an arc of Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh…we now know who to bribe for teasers, don’t we? 😉

Rika Ashton

(aka “Secretly – or maybe not so secretly – I am very envious.”)

Wicked Scribes

Nalini Singh is one of my two absolutely favorite authors, so when I get a surprise package in the mail from her, I get more than a little excited. Once again, I wasn’t expecting it, but today I got the wonderful surprise of an ARC of Archangel’s Shadows. Behold the beauty…

imageThe saddest thing is that I have only read the first 50 pages, but I am already more involved in the story than I have been after 250 pages of Dark Skye.

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Cover Reveal: Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

This just in…the cover for Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh has been unveiled!

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

Rock Addiction is Ms. Singh’s return to contemporary romance – though not at the expense of her other series. According to Ms. Singh, you can enjoy this series “guilt-free” because she thought it up and wrote the first novel during her vacation time.

Other speculation includes that this is a self-published series, though I can attest that I received my ARC for this book through The Knight Agency – Ms. Singh’s usual agency.

Whether self-published or not, the good news is that their will be more books in the Rock Kiss series – a story for every member of Fox’s band!

What are we thinking about the cover? Are you green with envy…or green with another kind of feeling? (Excuse the very intentional puns.)

Rika Ashton

(aka Speculative Reporter)