Despite previous reviews, I thought this was very much a 'haunted house' story with other way-out-there paranormal elements thrown in. After reading complaints of too many characters generating confusion, I went into the story making a list of the characters and their distinguishing traits to keep me sorted. I also referred to the handy floor plan to follow along. Even so, I didn't feel that pulled me outside of the story but rather enhanced it. I was swept away, creeped out, and went sleepless a couple of nights; all signs of an enthralling tale. My only disappointment was the final scientific explanation that took the shine off an otherwise spine-tingling and unearthly novel. 4 stars.
What began as a marriage of (in)convenience grew gradually and naturally into one of partnership, trust, and passion. It felt cohesive and realistic. I liked too that Max and Bianca were not aristocrats, though Max was in (distant) line to inherit a title which was a driving point in the plot. The family's ceramic business was original and interesting especially as ambitious Max planned to expand it by developing a new line of products for the average class, but the one element that threw me off was the cricket game scene, which may or may not have any historical truth. Did women play cricket with men in the late 1700s? The well-matched couple still faced other obstacles to overcome in the form of secrets and trust building, but the main appeal was the natural development of two people learning to like, appreciate, and fall in love with each other. Very enjoyable! 4 stars.
At first, there's a lot of push and pull between Sebastian and Colleen since neither one wanted to be married period, and not just with each other. But as in the way with romance, once they learned more about the other, they easily fell in love. I liked the natural progression of that. The mystery of who was trying to kill off Sebastian and his line was a little predictable and contrived, but it's not so bothersome. I still saw how it brought the couple closer together. And, of course, the heated love scenes were a definite plus. The ending was a little abrupt, but this was still a sweet romance. 3.5 stars.
At first, this story seemed agonizingly slow. Sophia and Charles (the Admiral) truly meant to stick to a marriage of convenience so things were a little stilted at first. They were absorbing characters, but I could see how their banter, although sometimes overlong, was the author's way of them getting to know each other in a more average sort of way. It wasn't until more than halfway through that the story really started to pick up where I could see and feel their emotional investment each contributed to the marriage. And then the waterworks began to flow and I could feel the anguish of being prematurely judged. Overall, it turned out to be a wonderful love story, albeit more subdued, almost quiet, but definitely a powerful testament to the healing balm of love, forgiveness, and second chances. 3.8 stars.
I felt there were too many story lines as well, though I really liked Fletch and Poppy, in spite of Poppy's naivete and that their story really didn't pick up until the last third of the book. Fletch was just precious! Still a very good work by E. James - she's still one of my favorites!
Very good read. Original plot; Caroline, in a loveless and childless marriage of 15 years to an old man is forced to have an affair for the sole purpose of begetting an heir for her husband's mill business. Jack, a mill worker, has loved her from afar for years. Unfortunately, his ambitious plans are sabotaged by his leechy family while he recovers from a horrendous mill accident. Jack and Caroline face many obstacles together, first of which is the real danger of their growing attraction, but they eventually find their HEA in a very satisfying way. A solid 4 stars.
I always eagerly anticipate a Sophie Jordan release, more so since a lost copy forced me to wait for a replacement. I began reading with a full smile, but then the story lost much of its shine, and I have to admit that I ultimately wrestled with rating this one.
The tale began as an unrequited love theme (one of my favs), which normally stirs up all kinds of personal conflict and opportunities for gut-punch emotion. Before long, though, this one left a weird taste in my mouth because the lead couple dragged out their antagonism for far too long. Their problems began when teen Aurelia, crushed after spying Max in a compromising situation, vents her disillusionment and hate onto paper with disastrous consequences. Believing she betrayed their friendship, Max, therefore, turned his back on her. When the story picked up briefly seven years later, and then a year after that, the motivation became enemies-to-lovers. Their early friendship was still in shreds, they were barely civil, bitter, and constantly snapping at each other. As teens, their childish behaviors were predictable, even understandable; however, as adults these are very tiresome.
I am not a fan of enemies to lovers, nor do I like reading romances where the main couple argues and tries to best the other, and, as in this case, often cruel about it. Am I really supposed to believe that they even liked each other, that Aurelia never stopped loving Max? Besides, Max was a randy goat and a womanizer. Thinking he could treat Aurelia as a constant one-night stand, using her for his sexual gratification, did not endear him to me. This was one of the few instances where the love scenes didn't feel so lovely. Also, I cringed a little when he used the "it's not you, it's me" line. Yuk. Subsequent events snowball quickly though a little too conveniently and not altogether convincing.
The second in the Debutante Files series is disappointing, so let this not be your introduction to Jordan. She has others that are much better and more satisfying (Wicked In Your Arms, Lessons From a Scandalous Bride). Too bad the unrequited love angle didn't angle toward another, less acrimonious, path.
Despite having jumped into the middle of a series, I thought it was great as a standalone. This romance deviated from the standard as Emma and Beranger were already a happy couple, and I especially appreciated that Emma wasn't intimidated by her hateful, step-MIL. Best of all, the newlyweds weren't waylaid or undermined by outsiders. Budding friendships with a couple of the servants gave the story more depth. Only in a few instances did the plot run a little thin, but I liked the characters too much for those to interfere with my enjoyment of the tale. 4 stars.
Jumped in with book 3 in series, and it's one awesomely adventurous story featuring several different settings: the meet-up in Scotland, a sea voyage across the Atlantic, slipping through the Union blockade into Charleston, and life on a cotton plantation; all well developed and equally engrossing. There was a nice balance of heartfelt romance, excitement, and danger without any yanking you out of the story. A great genealogical slant as well. Highly entertaining and recommended at 4.5 stars.
Surprisingly, this little gem of horror twists about in unforeseen ways, addressing underlying and wholly undetected issues all wrapped up in a nightmarish world. I didn't even see it coming. Riveting and enthusiastically recommended at 4 stars.
This is the type of story that will make you think twice before house swapping, with details lingering long after you finished the last page. You won't find overt violence here, but the weirdness quickly develops into something far more sinister and threatening, with a chilling twist at the end. A riveting read. 3.5 stars.
Another sweet, and tame, romance that borders on the dull. If you are looking for a passionate love story, this is not it. The character development, on the other hand, was well done and I especially liked Sophie's talent for quirky caricatures. Vincent and Sophie got on really well together but their romance didn't do anything for me. Yes, Vincent came to her rescue, twice, and that was sweet. But their romance was lackluster, somewhat like snuggling with a familiar blanket. 3 stars.
This story will resonate to those who've experienced sexual abuse and the spiraling behaviors that often develop when attempting to numb their traumatic experiences. Skye is an everyday type of teen who makes unwise choices and uses art to channel her emotions. She's a good kid with a bad reputation who determinedly protects her younger sister and tries to hide her growing attraction to her best friend, Ben, for the sake of preserving their solid friendship. And even though she's got a lot on her plate to deal with, and despite the topic, this is not a heavy read. I especially like the way Skye takes mental snapshots of her family and friends while naming the scene and type of medium she'd capture it in. It gives the reader who doesn't know anything about art insight into how creatives find art in everyday stuff. It's very cleverly done and inspiring, too, to see how Skye and Ben transform from stoners/drinkers to clear-eyed young adults making cognizant choices. I loved it! 4.5 stars.
This story was at best annoying and at worst frustrating, yet it was sprinkled periodically with poignant scenes. How does an author make this work? She doesn't; it just turns out to be a rather average tale. It's a strange chemistry. Esme and Roman worked, but why do their best parts always have to be at the end? What didn't work for me was the overused curse plot that surrounds Roman's family. And this story was built entirely around this curse. It colored everything Roman did and felt and believed in. It made their marriage of convenience frustrating when it was obvious they could have really made a go of it. Esme's part in the curse felt thrown in, and when she finally made the big reveal, it was immaterial at that point. The ending was rather lukewarm, but at least certain facts about Roman's family were explained. Ultimately, I was able to finish this story, unlike the first one (The Duke and the Deep Blue Sea). However, it was far from satisfying. For me it was a lackluster 3 stars.
With every first novel of a new series, I always am optimistic for an out of the ballpark experience, especially when the author is a bestselling fan favorite. Even more so when said series reintroduces compelling characters from a previous one. In The Art of Sinning, American Jeremy Keane, artist extraordinaire, gets his chance at love with his muse, Lady Yvette Barlow.
While enjoyable, it fell way short of my expectations. Jeremy and Yvette was a fine couple, but their romance rather skimmed the surface of what could have been a great love affair. Their insecurities and misconceptions about themselves is what grabbed me most; Yvette believed she was too plain, too big (of course, being a good hero Jeremy thinks she's beautiful), and Jeremy was convinced he made unsuitable husband material. Of course, for him this stemmed from his big secret: a previous marriage that ended badly and resulted in a family estrangement.
The big surprise, however, was the true meaning behind the painting (one that Yvette secretly posed for) which was Jeremy's subconscious on canvas. While it caused a flurry of misunderstandings, in keeping with good hero fashion, he made a quick scramble to make things right with Yvette.
As I said, The Art of Sinning was enjoyable but hardly a keeper. It could have been great, but it just wasn't--at least for me. I wanted more depth, less fluff. Pass this one on to your friend and hope for a more satisfying round of adventure with the second installment in the Sinful Suitors series.
Wow, where does Weir GET this stuff? I thoroughly enjoyed this story, its non-stop action, and its spunky and totally flawed but oh so very clever heroine, Jazz. Frankly, the science behind the story was a bit intimidating initially--I cannot pretend that I was able to follow along 100 percent of the time--but the easy writing style and quick-moving plot kept me fully engaged. In ways, I preferred Artemis even more than The Martian, but truly, they are both fantastic reads. After this, a space colony doesn't seem so far-fetched. 4.5 stars.
What was it like to live through the Spanish flu pandemic on the heels of WWI? Frightening stuff. Experiencing it through the Bright family--their love, loss, and adjustment to life's random changes--was nothing short of riveting. A little romance, a little heartbreak, but always--always--a family a reader can love. I really wasn't good for anything much until I finished it. Absolutely recommended at 4.5 stars.