Posts tagged “Tristan

Throwback Thursday: HER MASTER AND COMMANDER by Karen Hawkins

This week’s Throwback Thursday features the first book I read by Karen Hawkins: Her Master and Commander! I read this book a very, very long time ago, but Ms. Hawkins’ writing – imbued with her classic sense of humour – has made it very memorable and I thought I’d share it as this week’s pick.

Just ask Reeves!

Dying without legitimate issue, the late Earl of Rochester set his butler extraordinaire, Reeves, to find his wild, illegitimate children and “civilize” them. Reeves must seek out the first o the earl’s arrogant sons, Captain Tristan Llevanth, a one-time pirate, and teach him how to be a gentleman.

A will of steel…

Tristan Llevanth gave up his free-wheeling life as a pirate to fight at Admiral Nelson’s side. Wounded, Tristan will never again sail the seas he loves. Life has not more challenges. Or so he thinks, until Reeves brings a certain outspoken lady into the captain’s uncultured household…

An iron-clad spirit…

Reeves believes Tristan needs a spark to relight the fires of his soul. And who better than the lovely Prudence Thistlewaite, the bane of the captain’s existence? Prudence wants nothing to do with her wickedly handsome, ill-tempered neighbor. Still, she cannot refuse the outlandish sum Reeves offers to smooth Tristan’s rough edges.

Can Prudence tame the rakish captain?

Or will Tristan gain what he most wishes, to become…

Her Master and Commander

This book is full of laughs and wicked banter between Tristan and Prudence. No one can write character chemistry like Ms. Hawkins and certainly no one can replicate her sense of comical timing. If you haven’t read anything by Ms. Hawkins or if you’re a lifetime fan, this is one book you can’t miss!

Rika Ashton

(aka Master and Commander of All Things Bookish)

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Find Out How the Scoundrel Seduces in Sabrina Jeffries Latest!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in return for an honest and spoiler-free review.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Sabrina JeffriesHow the Scoundrel Seduces a few months ago and I didn’t waste any time diving in! Ms. Jeffries has proven herself to be a talented writer of intricately plotted mysteries that can link several novels together. As she did in the School for Heiresses series, where she kept the reader guessing until the very end about who Cousin Michael could be, Ms. Jeffries keeps us turning the page as we try to figure out the motives of this series’ villain and how he will ultimately fall…

The Blurb:

The third deliciously sexy novel in the New York Times bestselling Duke’s Men historical romance series, featuring an investigator who sets out to find gypsies— and unexpectedly finds love.

Investigator Tristan Bonnaud has one aim in life— to make sure that his half-brother George can’t ever ruin his life again. So when the pesky Lady Zoe Keane, the daughter of the Earl of Olivier, shows up demanding that the Duke’s Men find a mysterious gypsy woman, he seizes the opportunity to also hunt for a gypsy friend who knows secrets about George. Tristan doesn’t expect to uncover Lady Zoe’s family secrets, as well… or end up falling for the woman who will risk all to discover the truth

The Review:

Few authors can make a historical setting come to life as well as Sabrina Jeffries and, in How the Scoundrel Seduces, she seems to have mastered the technique. Characters, setting, and language are so well controlled and utilized on Ms. Jeffries latest novel that you really feel the historical context come to life.

And speaking of characters, Zoe is one of the smartest heroines I have read from Ms. Jeffries. The soon to be Countess was a scene-stealer on When the Rogue Returns, but had real moments to shine in this novel. We get to see more facets of her characters as she searches for her parents. Resourcefulness, spunk and humour were some of Zoe’s trademarks – making her the real selling point of the novel.

However, compared to Zoe, Tristan didn’t stand out as much for me in this novel. He was fun and generous, but not the standout character that Zoe was. On the other hand, Tristan had amazing chemistry in his scenes with Zoe. In a romantic sense, Zoe brings out the best in Tristan – now whether Ms. Jeffries intentionally or accidentally wrote Tristan that way is anyone’s guess?

But a character that surprised me was Jeremy Keane, Zoe’s cousin. I didn’t expect to like Jeremy so much, especially considering the fact that he was rarely in the novel, but I adored all his scenes.

With its well-written setting, fun characters, and suspenseful pacing, I recommend How the Scoundrel Seduces to all fans and new readers!

RATING - 4

Rika Ashton

(aka Zoe’s Fan Club President)


All Those Books…Just Enough Time

It’s time for another quick update. I’m almost done with my back list of ARCs, but I’ve got a few more reviews to go. The next batch of amazing books – some of which I had to BEG for – include some of my favourite authors.

First off, I was given a copy of Hunt the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy with a request to complete the review sometime after the release date, so I’ll likely be posting a review for that this weekend.

The vampire Roke is raw, sensual, always in control. Yet somehow he’s allowed the unthinkable to happen: a nymph-like witch named Sally has used her magic to trick Roke into mating with her. The pair will remain bound for eternity unless Sally breaks the spell. The trouble is, she has no idea how…

Mating with Roke was an accident; at least that’s what Sally keeps telling herself. She’s on the hunt for her demon father, whose identity holds the key to releasing the spell. The search won’t be easy with Roke shadowing Sally’s every move. As they mate with a ferocity that leaves them both aching for more, Sally isn’t sure if her world is more dangerous without Roke – or with him…

The next novel with a review to be released after that will likely be Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard. The publication date for this novel is July 22, 2014, so I’ll be aiming to post a review a little after that. This is a final installment and I don’t want to spoil anything.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Then we’ll be getting a review of Kresley Cole‘s Dark Skye, which will hit stores on August 5th, 2014. I guaranteed a copy of my ARC for this novel after much hassling, bargaining, bribing, begging – and quite possibly blackmailing, but I should be able to get you a review of this a few days before the publication date. 😉

Eternal Obsession

As a boy, Thronos, Lord of Skye Hall, loved Lanthe, a mischievous Sorceri girl who made him question everything about his Vrekener clan. But when the two got caught in the middle of their families’ war, tragedy struck, leaving Thronos and Lanthe bitter enemies. Though centuries have passed, nothing can cool his seething need for the beautiful enchantress who scarred his body – and left an even deeper impression on his soul.

Endless Yearning

Lanthe, a once-formidable sorceress struggling to reclaim her gifts, searches for love and acceptance with all the wrong immortal suitors. But she’s never forgotten Thronos, the magnificent silver-eyed boy who protected her until she was ripped from the shelter of his arms. One harrowing night changed everything between them. Now he’s a notorious warlord with a blood vendetta against Lanthe, hunting her relentlessly.

Can the heat of desire burn brighter than vengeance?

With their families locked in conflict and battles raging all around them, will Thronos and Lanthe succumb to the brutal chaos that threatens everything they cherish? Or will the fragile bond they formed so long ago spark a passion strong enough to withstand even the darkest doubts?

Finally, I’ll be writing a review for How the Scoundrel Seduces by Sabrina Jeffries (release date August 19th, 2014, which means the review will be released at least a day before.)

Lady Zoe Keane’s father is pressing her to marry a cousin she’s never met. As Lord and Lady Olivier’s only child, spirited Zoe will one day inherit the title of countess and their Yorkshire estate, the land she adores—but she wants to marry for love. Then an unsolved family mystery shatters her world: is it possible Zoe’s birth mother was actually a Romany named Drina? Desperate to know her true lineage, Zoe hires the Duke’s Men to search for the woman who will determine her destiny.

Tristan Bonnaud is the man for the job, and not because the roguish investigator cares about a spoiled aristocrat and her inheritance “problem.” To protect himself from his villainous half-brother, Tristan needs to track down his Romany horse trader friend who has information about a decade-old scandal—and this young beauty’s far-fetched case is just the excuse he needs.

But if untangling the past isn’t risky enough, the sizzling attraction drawing the scoundrel to the lady is the most dangerously seductive surprise of all. . . .

Rika Ashton

(aka Blogger With No Middle Name)


Throwback Thursday: A PIRATE’S LOVE by Johanna Lindsey

The 2008 cover

It’s no secret that I adore Johanna Lindsey‘s novels. However, there is one exception to that rule – A Pirate’s Love. This is an old school historical romance – yes, I’m talking bodice ripper style! Like all of Johanna Lindsey’s heroines, Bettina is a virgin in the beginning – sex, passion, etc are complete unknown’s to her, while Tristan is an pirate but nothing like the politically correct pirates we’re used to reading in “modern” historical romances. This novel is not for the faint of heart and has been extremely controversial for a long time, just check out the divide between some of the reviews on Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, Goodreads, and others.

Sailing westward toward the Caribbean sun, young Bettina Verlaine obediently sets out to fulfill the promise made by her father – but not by her heart – a prearranged marriage destined not to be…once the notorious Captain Tristan’s pirate ship appears on the horizon.

Abducted by the bold and handsome brigand, the pale-haired beauty surrenders her innocence in the warm caress of the tropical winds — detesting her virile captor for enslaving her. . .yet loving him for the passionate spell he casts over fragile, yearning heart.

As far as heroes go, Tristan’s nothing like what I’ve come to think of Ms. Lindsey’s other heroes – many of whom are funny, charming, intelligent, and all-around likeable. I did not like Tristan – he’s got some MAJOR psychological issues to work out, what he needs in this novel is a therapist not a wife.

Bettina was a bit of a doormat and, I want to say trauma victim because of the heavy content from this novel, but I don’t know. Or rather, I can more accurately say, I don’t remember. I probably read this novel a good 6 years ago, and while I own a copy, I have not dared to pick it up since.

I sometimes wonder if Johanna Lindsey actually wrote this book or if someone – who clearly does not understand what a true love story constitutes – falsely published it under her name…it’s VERY different from her other novels. Like with a gap the size of the GRAND CANYON different! Ms. Lindsey’s a great writer, but this is not her best work – the other 99% of her novels have been hits with me, but this 1% just didn’t make the cut. (Try her Mallory series, if you’re interested in some of her BEST work.)

That said, the powers that be, at Avon have decided to reissue the novel. (I sincerely hope that they decide to upgrade, nay fix, the content as well.)

Here’s the oh-so-innocent latest reissue cover below:

And the original artwork:

As you can see the covers are all pretty different, and none really fit with the dark subject matter of the novel. Of course, this novel was originally published in 1978 and written before that, so the dated views are partly a product of the time in which they were imagined.

Likely.

But that’s just my two cents for his Throwback Thursday…next week’s post should be much happier.

RATING - 2

-Rika Ashton

(aka “This post is also turned into a semi-book review.”)


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.