Posts tagged “book recommendations

Cover and Blurb Reveal: Heart of Stone by Christine Warren

I’ve always been a fan of Christine Warren’s “Others” series, in particular Big Bad Wolf, so I was a little sad when Ms. Warren decided to take a break from writing more novels in this series to explore new venues. However, as a writer, I know how important it is to keep a “fresh” perspective lest you suffer from incurable writer’s block.

And then I saw the cover for Ms. Warren’s upcoming Heart of Stone and nearly had a nosebleed…

Heart of Stone

And then I read the blurb and all but stopped breathing…

Kees is a gargoyle, one of a group of supernatural guardians created to protect the world from the seven demons of the Dark. In an earlier age, he and his brother warriors defeated creatures and banished them. With their duty done, the guardians settled in to sleep until a new threat arose. So why on earth would he awaken to nothing more than a small female woman?

Gargoyles are the strike force of demons, but Kees cannot see the threat. It certainly isn’t coming from Ella, but something about her must have woken him from his sleep. She must be the key to uncovering his new mission. With her by his side, he begins to unravel of trail of clues that leads to only one conclusion: somehow, the portals he and his brothers had thought were sealed have begun to open.

And moments of hyperventilating later, I let out what can only be described as a “fangirl screech!” (A hybrid cross between a scream and an “eeep.”)

Gargoyles?! Gargoyles! These elusive creatures are rarely explored in paranormal romance, so I’m massively glad that when Ms. Warren discussed exploring “new” venues, she actually meant it. I can’t wait to read the story she’s come up with! 😀

Heart of Stone releases December 31, 2013.

What elusive supernatural creature do you think should be explored in paranormal romance? How do you feel about gargoyles?

Rika Ashton

(aka That Girl You Heard “Fangirl Screech” from Across the Ocean)

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Reading Recommendation: The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of reading Stephanie Lauren’s The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh – the latest in her Cynster series.

The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh (The Cynster Sisters Duo #2)

The 2nd in the Cynster Sisters duo, #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens thrills with this fantastic tale of a Cynster who’ll stop at nothing for love.

Lady Mary has been waiting years for this opportunity. Not that her sister has thrown off her spinster ways and become betrothed, it’s finally Mary’s chance for true love. She knows exactly who she wants –and it’s not someone as wild, unmanageable, and sinfully seductive as Ryder Cavanaugh.

Ryder Cavanaugh, Marquess of Raventhorne, had never met a woman who wouldn’t happily fall at his feet–or into his bed…until Lady Mary Cynster. But Ryder has made some decisions about his life and he’ll only succeed at being the man he wants to be with Mary by his side. And convincing her of that fact is just the kind of challenge he thrills at…

The novel was a bittersweet read for me – not because the story was in any way sad or morose, but because I knew that this would be the last Cynster novel in a while, before we get to the story about the next generation. Laurens is taking a break from the Cynsters to write the next Casebook of Barnaby Adair novel – a spinoff of the Cynster series that started with Where the Heart Leads. As much as I enjoyed reading Where the Heart Leads, I’m impatient to get to Lucilla’s novel, which will hopefully be the next Cynster duo to be released in 2015. (But luckily we get a Cynster Christmas novella in 2014 to somewhat tide us over.)

The good news is that Laurens is signed on for 5 more Cynster novels – and hopefully more after that, especially now that she’s whet my appetite for the Cynster children’s novels – of which there are 79 children. 😉

On the other hand, I also want to know what’s happening in Penelope and Barnaby’s world – and in a perfect world, all these novels would be written and released simultaneously! 🙂

But since this is not the case, I’ll have to satisfy myself by raving about The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh!

The novel starts off with Mary Cynster, the last of her Cynster generation, who’s looking for her “hero” while at the same time expecting to make a great match. Fortunately, she believes they will be one and the same. Luckily, Mary’s stubborn and determined enough to make this the case. Unfortunately, Mary has set her sights on Randolph – that’s right, Randolph not Ryder – Cavanaugh. Randolph is Ryder’s younger brother, close to Mary in age and a “hero” Mary believes has the potential to be taught how to be a great husband.

You see, Mary has one primary defining trait – she’s bossy. Her family know it, the ton know it, Mary knows it and Ryder knows it.

This is exactly why Ryder is determined to wed Mary himself. No, not because he likes getting ordered around – or so he thinks – but because he believes he can stand up to Mary.

It takes some convincing and some luck, but Ryder is able to persuade Mary into choosing and marrying him over Randolph, his half brother.

So how does Randolph feel about this?

If your expecting a love triangle, then prepare to be disappointed. Randolph is very relieved to learn that Mary has married Ryder. One, because he’s too young to get married – he’s only twenty-four. And two, because Randolph, being an informed member of the ton knows how bossy Mary can be.

Fortunately for Ryder, he adaptable to taking orders from his wife – a unique trait in an alpha male. But for Mary’s part, she’s also willing to compromise – a skill she has learned is necessary when dealing with alpha males of her Cynster cousins’ caliber.

One of the best parts about reading this novel, was reading about a couple that learns to compromise and a female who is just a little more alpha than the hero when it comes to knowing her own mind and heart. Mary’s logical, open-minded and decisive. Once she’s made a decision or promise, she sticks to it. Plus, she’s perfectly capable to brining Ryder to his knees!

It was refreshing to read about a couple who didn’t keep secrets from one another and were willing to listen to each other and work together to overcome their foes.

[Mary’s] eyes had narrowed slightly; her lips parted, but before she could speak, [Ryder] held up a staying hand. “And yes, knowing that Cynster’s only marry for love, I freely admit that I was perfectly prepared to cold-bloodedly pretend to fall in love with you if that was what it took to win you as my marchioness, to be the mother of my children and the matriarch of the Cavanaughs…” Eyes locking with hers, he drew in a massive breath, let it out with, “But then I discovered I didn’t need to pretend.”

I don’t know about you, but there is something decidedly HOT about a man who is willing to do anything – including lie and cheat – in order to win the woman he wants! 😉

So what to you think about the Cynsters? Who do you think the next novel should be about?

-Rika Ashton

(aka Book Recommender)

P.S: There are more Stephanie Laurens’ novel release details in her latest newsletter.


What the Duke Desires: A Book Review

Warning: As much as I try to avoid these, spoilers may be present in this book review.

And today, for a review of Sabrina Jeffries’ highly anticipated (at least by me) novel, What the Duke Desires!

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan’s sister, Lisette—and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has also mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims them to be?

Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan’s career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife—not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount—and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.

What the Duke Desires is as much a novel about the influence of parents on children as it is a romance. Both Lisette and Max had childhoods, which although not perfect, were not entirely horrible either.

Lisette’s mother, the French mistress of an English Viscount, was loving and supportive of her children and Lisette’s father was likewise as loving, if a little absentminded. However, despite the fact that Lisette’s mother and father loved one another, they were not married. According to Lisette, it seems as if her father kept putting of their marriage for one reason or another – and Lisette (as well as myself) assumed it was because he didn’t want to marry his mistress. But the real tragedy arrives, when Lisette’s father dies unexpectedly and his heir, George Manton (the story’s main villain and Lisette’s half brother) forces Lisette, her brother Tristan and her mother off his property. Dominick, George’s brother leaves with them, choosing to support his half-siblings out of a sense of loyalty and love.

The history between Lisette’s parents has turned her against marriage and men and towards  a way to be independent – and not fake independence either, the kind where the heroine talks about independence but doesn’t do anything. Lisette had worked for the French police and now works for Manton’s Investigations – it’s clear she has a career and doesn’t rely solely on her brother’s for support. Another characteristic I liked about Lisette was her ability not to take herself, or what anyone says about her too seriously. She’s able to fend off most of Max’s accusations – and he makes some wild ones – with logic and good humour.

Dominick’s wonderful and I have a sneaking suspicion that he will get a story, along with his ex-fiance, Jane – hopefully soon. He’s a supportive brother and the head of Manton’s Investigation, renamed The Duke’s Men later in the book. As far as brothers go, I think Dominick is definitely a more responsible one than Tristan – though Tristan has his moments.

Tristan’s another interesting character, with an interesting career as an agent for the Surete Nationale (the French Secret Police). While I’m sure Tristan will have his own novel soon (really how could he not with a career like his – so much potential), I think he has a little growing up to do before he’s ready for a happily ever after.

But, since I’m sure the character you really want to know about is the Duke of Lyons, Maximillian Cale – or Max, as Lisette dubs him – I’ll get to him now. Max meets Lisette when he storms into Manton’s Investigations demanding to know where Tristan is. Tristan, as one would have it has sent Max a cryptic letter claiming he’s found Max’s long-lost, thought to be dead, brother but then didn’t show up the the secret meeting. Max afraid this is some kind of hoax wants an explanation.

Readers might remember Max from the “Hellions of Halstead Hall” series – he’s the duke that the ton considers “mad” – as in insane, not constantly angry, though if everyone kept calling me crazy, I’d think I had a right to be angry.

Max suffers from the fear that he had inherited a family madness, since both his father and great-uncle went mad. Because this is a romance, I knew that Max couldn’t really be “mad,” although I did second guess myself a lot, but I was really hoping for a good explanation – and, boy, did I get a good one. No, Max doesn’t have a magical immunity which means that he won’t go mad, but a much more scientific and believable explanation was given – and yes, I was very impressed because I had no idea something like this coud happen. (But, you’ll have to read the novel to find out what it is, because no way am I spoiling something this good.)

When Max and Lisette meet, we finally get to see Lisette’s dramatic side. She convinces Max – a duke – to pose as a commoner. As you can imagine, it’s fun reading about a spoiled duke learning to live like a commoner. One of my favourite scenes in the novel occurs when Max learns that commoner’s share bath water, between couples and sometimes between families:

“I merely thought you should know that you may have to wait a while for [your bath]. Madame insists that you have fresh water, and it will take a while to heat it. If fresh water is what you prefer.”

Now Max was bewildered. “Of course I prefer fresh water. What else is there?”

The butler rolled his eyes, as if frustrated at dealing with someone so oblivious as Maximillian. “Wives and husbands often share bathwater in France, Mr. Kale. I forgot that you English can be…fastidious.”

Several things hit Max at once. One, he’d forgotten that he was supposed to be married. Two, he’d forgotten that the servants didn’t know he was a duke. And three, people actually shared bathwater?

Along with the funny moments is the steamy romance, which is signature of Sabrina Jeffries. Max and Lisette are attracted to one another, but both are resistant to act on these emotions. Lisette because she doesn’t want to repeat her mother’s mistake by falling in love with someone above her station, and Max because he knows that he’ll fall in love with Lisette but fears he’ll go mad and she’ll suffer watching his digress. (But, of course, if you try to surress fire for too long, there’s going to be an explosion!)

One thing I loved most about this novel was that Max and Lisette were not only good at admitting their feelings, but had good legitimate reasons for why they wanted to avoid marriage – not flimsy I-don’t-want-to-marry-you-because-I’m-afraid-of-commitment kind of reasons.

But if you’re still not convinced that Max and Lisette are a couple worth reading about, watch this video for some more funny teasers:

And, finally, as always I’m impressed with the amount of historical detail that goes into a Sabrina Jeffries novel. In What the Duke Desires, we get to meet Eugene Vidocq – a real criminal turned secret French investigator who lived in the time period.

So what’s the verdict?

Go out and grab a copy of What the Duke Desires. Trust me, finding out what Max desires will be worth it.

Edited to add: Sabrina Jeffries has confirmed (in a group FB post) that the next novel will be about Max’s relative (who I assume is Victor), followed by Tristan and then, Dominick’s – she’s saving him for last.

And if you’ve had a chance to read What the Duke Desires already, what are your thoughts? Are you loving the novel as much as I did or do you think I’ve lost my mind recommending this book? (Leave a comment with your thoughts and/or ravings.)

Rika Ashton

(aka Book Reviewer Extraordinaire)

Disclaimer: All book quotes used in this review are the property of Sabrina Jeffries © 2013.


Kicking it into Overdrive!

Hello ladies and gents,

My grueling practicum is finally over and I’m finally writing again! (Although in all seriousness I had lot of fun – it was neat visiting high school from a teacher’s perspective – despite all the work.)

I’m going to start posting book reviews and novel teasers very soon, so if you haven’t entirely lost interest in Dagger of the Sun (DOTS), stay tuned!

Finally I want to gush about how excited I am for the release of HEART OF OBSIDIAN by Nalini Singh. I have a hunch, like many of us, that this one is about Kaleb but Nalini Singh has a way of surprising us – always for the better!

I’ll be writing again soon with a new DOTS teaser.

Till then,
Rika Ashton (aka the Ecstatic!)


Reading Recommendation: Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns

I read Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns a while ago and I still can’t get over how GREAT this book is, so of course I had to recommend it on my blog:

When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were  killed before him. At thirteen, he led a band of bloodthirsty  thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king…

It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle  he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day  he hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched Count  Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been  driven to vent his rage.

Life and death are no more than a game to  him-and he has nothing left to lose. But treachery awaits him in  his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic.

No matter how fierce  his will, can one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining?

Also, although I have yet to get my hands on it, I’m looking forward King of Thorns:

The boy who would be King has gained the throne…

Prince Honorious Jorg Ancrath vowed when he was nine to avenge his  slaughtered mother and brother-and punish his father for not doing  so. When he was fifteen, he began to fulfill that vow. Now he is  eighteen-and he must hold on by strength of arms to what he took by  torture and treachery.

King Jorg is a man haunted: by the ghost of a young boy, by a  mysterious copper box, by his desire for the woman who rides with  his enemy. Plagued by nightmares of the atrocities he committed,  and of the atrocities committed against him when he was a child, he  is filled with rage. And even as his need for revenge continues to  consume him, twenty thousand men march toward the gates of his  castle. His enemy is far stronger than him. Jorg knows that he  cannot win a fair fight.

But he has found, in a chamber hidden beneath the castle, ancient  and long-lost artifacts. Some might call them magic. Jorg is not  certain-all he knows is that the secrets they hold can be put to  terrible use in the coming battle…

I have to admit that when I saw these books at chapters it was the cover art that attracted me – and it is very beautiful – so I hunted down the cover artist and he is none other than the uber-talented, Jason Chan. If I have any say in the process, I want him to be the one to design the covers for Dagger of the Sun.

Rika Ashton