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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Scandal and coverup. Delicious!

Pleasing new rogue!



Once again Jecks comes up with a winner. This first in a new series has it all--intrigue, deadly court politics, a roguish, likeable anti hero,  and murder-- all centered in the firm historical detail of the Elizabethan period during the rebellion of 1554 lead by Jane Grey supporters against Queen Mary.
This engaging mystery tale is told by a bumbling young scapegoat, Jack Blackjack who has the perfectly respectable occupation as a cut purse, living off his wits, along with his fellow gang members, all lead by the nasty piece of work, Bill Tanner. Not your band of merry men, rather a group of people living in squalor thriving and more to make a living. Jack is besotted by the lovely Moll, Bill's girlfriend. Jack and Moll live in the same space. Theirs is a curious relationship never quite realized but Jack always adoringly hopeful. Bill Tanner always threateningly jealous.
Jack becomes unknowingly caught up in the rebellion. One minute he's stealing a purse, the next he finds himself coming to consciousness with a dagger in his hand, a dead body beside him and  lump on his head.
Taking off ahead of the hue and cry, Jack's road to discovering who framed him in is littered with dead bodies, traitors, and important personages, including Queen Mary herself. 
Masterly! I look forward to hearing more of Jack!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Wild West meets the Wild Highlands!



This is a very different take on the 'highlander' historical romance theme.
The Isle of Hedabarr has lost its laird and the heir's whereabouts are unknown. Solicitor Geddes Gordon knows that the current presumed heir will wreck havoc with the island and its people. The only thing to do is to find the younger son, Shamus McNeil, who'd made his way to Texas and never thought to inherit.
Unfortunately Shamus is dead. His son Fletcher, maker of arrows, McNeil however can inherit the title--except that Fletcher is half Commache.
Still a duke is a duke, even if found in a prison waiting to be hanged. Fletcher is sprung from his cell and sets sail for the Scottish islands. His final condition on accepting his inheritance as the Duke of Kintyre is that Geddes will find his siblings and bring them to Scotland.
At Castle Sheiling he meets Geddes' sister Rosalyn. Both are drawn to each other but Rosalyn wants nothing to do with the 'savage' lord--or does she? Certainly cliched assumptions about 'savages' on Rosalyn's part do intrude on their first meeting.
So we have murder, a thwarted heir presumptive, intrigue, and a very interesting secondary  woman, one Fenella Begley, Rosalyn's friend  and Geddes' nemesis.
Interesting twists to an age old theme. I enjoyed the difference and look forward to more in the series.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Love unlooked for!



Who knew that when a distraught, bloodied young woman comes knocking at the door Highland Knights London residence, falling straight into Colin Stirling's arms, that Colin's life was about to change forever.
Lady Emilia Buchanan is fleeing her father's wrath and the truth she has discovered about him.
For protection she turns to the Highland Knights. 
Colin Stirling's has not recover d from the devastation and horror of Waterloo. His scars are internal.
Together they will heal and discover truths that will eventually effect England's safety.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Another awesome Kelly treat!

Gillian Dryden, the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Cumberland is a feisty beguiling brat of a young woman living with her mother and step father in Italy. When bandits kill her beloved step father Gillian is hell bent on revenge and justice. She tracks down the bandits and ends their reign of terror. In doing so she makes powerful enemies. 
To her distress she is recalled from her life of freedom in Italy to London to make a suitable marriage. 
Head of the family Charles (Perfect) Valentine Pevensley, the Duke of Leverton, sophisticated and proper, who has charge of her entrée into society just doesn't stand a chance. 
Her wildness and sense of purpose, free from the trappings of a confined society, ensures that scandal is drawn to her, she is a lodestone, 'Trouble' is her middle name.
Being born on the wrong side of royalty to a prince makes her life difficult, her inability to play the prim miss makes it even more so.
After several disastrous social events, including punching an Earl, Charles takes Gillian away to get her out of the social firing line whilst the gossip dies down--right into the mystery and intrigue of smugglers! Of course Gillian becomes involved and by default, Charles.
Gillian leads Charles a merry dance and 'Perfect Pevensley and his formidable heart are knocked askew. This startling free spirit shatters his organized life and breaks down  his barriers, but is that enough?
A throughly pleasurable read with a sensational female lead! 

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Pride and consequence take a beating!




Why is it always a pleasure to see the high-in-the-instep stuffy peer fall for the riotous, troublesome female? A female who loosens him from his elevated bonds and trappings of his self importance to reveal the real man beneath.
When Dotty's (Dorothea Stern, granddaughter of the Duke of Bristol) actions inveigle Dominic,  the Marquis of Merton, into defending her he finds himself thinking more about her than he should.
This from the man who has composed a list of suitable women to marry. Dotty definitely is not in their class. I must say she is in a class all of her own. She has all the smarts to become an 'incomparable', an 'original' (in a good sense).
After all, 'he neither wished nor expected to love his wife. His uncle had been exceedingly clear that strong passion and emotions were to be avoided in marriage. They lead to disaster'.
The problem is that Dominic was raised by this rigid uncle who drilled into Dominic a sense of his rightful consequence.
So prig meets an original and is taken for a roller coaster of a ride towards the messy consequences of love, with many hilarious moments.
I loved this continuation of The Worthington's series.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Great read!

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal




Set in the First World War, I really enjoyed this! Action packed! The ghost talkers are mediums who talk to dead soldiers to find out enemy troop actions in an attempt to foil them.
Very clever premise!
Ginger Stuyvesant is an American heiress and medium, with an English mother. She has joined the Spirit Corps, an elite spiritualist force, as a volunteer. Her fiancé Captain Ben Hartford is also involved as an intelligence officer, fully aware of the Corps mission. He is looking for a traitor who is supplying information about the Corps to the Germans. The Germans are targeting the Corps. The Sprit Corps is in grave danger.
Plenty of intrigue and heart stopping moments. I admit to a tear or two!
Kowal has managed to capture the essence of the era, the battle fronts and the organizations that worked so diligently in secret. It's not the Bletchley circle but it comes close with the intrigue and devotion to cause, bringing an air of reality to an otherwise fantastical notion.

A NetGalley ARC


*****

... court intrigue and a bridal candidate

The Emperor's Arrow by Lauren D.M. Smith


For a moment I thought I wandered through familiar territory. I was wrong. This is an interesting departure from the warrior woman story, with shades of Terun Edun and Sarah Maas. The central character Evony of Aureline doesn't become a warrior woman despite the opinion of her society, she is one because she comes from a clan of warrior women, she is an Amazzi warrior. 
(Ok very close to Amazons but there you go--a small shrug of the shoulders!)
The Amazzi, unlike the rest of the satellite rulers are allies to the Fuscienne family from before they became Emperors. Emperor Galen is the Adnuhom (the man the Amazzi bow to). They are his arrows, his personal army.
Having won a competition amongst the Amazzi clans, Evony is sent to Emperor Galen's court. To her dismay Evony finds herself being presented as a candidate with other highborn women of the realm to be the Emperor's bride. (A fact her hilarious sisters had failed to notify her about!)
Of course Evony is startling different to the other contestants from the get go and sorely puzzled by the attributes her competitors see as desirable. Evony is happy to breed a child, but life at court is not for her. She has the freedom of a warrior. Indeed Emperor Galen finds he has bitten off more than he can chew with this particular candidate. Evony becomes involved in the court intrigue, searching for a traitor in their midst at Galen's behest. In doing so she and Galen come to know each other as comrades in arms and so much more.

 A NetGalley ARC 

****

... paranormal action!



Book 3 continues the SEAL team's fight against an unknown, powerful enemy as they endeavour to clear their names.
Lieutenant Seth “Rawls” Rawlings, ST7’s corpsman,  may have returned from beyond death but his crossing back over is accompanied by another challenge.
Rawls is thrown in contact with Faith Ansell, the scientist whose fellow workers were captured by an unknown force, and that contact has them both on edge.
MacKenzie isn't happy with the way his team is collecting partners--that is not going to happen to him!
Amy needs to be reunited with her children but that has risks no-one can foretell.
There's a dangerous force out to get the SEAL team with unlimited resources. Time and again they are rescued by Wolf, a Shadow Mountain warrior, Kait's brother and so much more.
We are starting to see the forces being arrayed against the Mackenzie and those supporting them. Neither are insignificant.
An exciting episode added to the 'forged' series as the enemy becomes clearer, sides are aligned and the unforeseen becomes reality. An eco, paranormal adventure that continues the tradition of honourable men and their equally honourable and feisty women.

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hope for the wounded--body, heart and soul!

Obviously PTSD is very dear to Davis' heart. This book, a racey romance, deals with some very real and serious issues. That this is a vehicle for such concerns in no way detracts from the storyline. It gives us the unvarnished acceptance of this mental health issue, an issue that when present, deeply affects the lives of all involved.
'Survivor' highlights some of those issues. Of course the story ends on the road to hope. Something we would all wish for.
All that aside I loved the character of Navy SEAL Dustin Frank as he fights his inner demons and the gal who challenges him in every way, Kelcee Todd. A young woman who is harbouring some very dark secrets and fears--fleeing the Russian mob and a brother out for vengeance. Dustin, having lost part of his leg and suffering explosive panic attacks, is looking for quiet and rest--healing being a dim possibility. A possibility being offered at his ex-commanding officer's property, Eagle Ridge Ranch.
Warrior Falls, part is of the setting in the Hill Country of Texas has a place of importance for first peoples. It may just help all these wounded warriors of today.
As Kelcee and Dustin are thrown together they begin to see each other in new ways.
A great start to a new series.

A NetGalley ARC

****

... an elopement, murder and mystery



Enjoyable in only the way a British mystery set between the two World Wars, the Interbellum period, can be.
We have a self deprecating young woman, Lady Georgiana Rannoch of royal lineage, whose would be Irish fiancée, the Honourable Darcy O'Mara, learns that his father has been arrested for murder--just as they are enroute to Gretna Green. It seems the fates have conspired against them, including the fact that the Northern Road is closed due to blizzard conditions.
The interesting fact of Georgina's lineage and the elopement is revealed in the  in the quite engaging opening.
Solving of the mystery of Darcy's father's innocence is quite a challenge and makes for a good read. Georgina of course hies off to Ireland to support her man.
We are introduced to the eccentric and daring, sultry Russian Princess Alexandra Maria Zamanska known as Zou Zou. A wonderful character.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Interesting!

City of Wolves by Willow Palecek 



Tight writing is part of this succinct novella that explores the realm of gaslight fantasy.
Intrigue and nobility, with werewolves and the death of a Lord. Said Lord has been found dead in mysterious circumstances, made even more so by the bite marks all over his body. Alexander Drake, private investigator, is hired to find out the truth but sometimes the truth is too large and better left alone.
There is a certain predictability. Despite this, I hope we hear more about Drake.

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2

Heart and hurt--a dangerous mixture!


Lord Hadley Fullerton, the second son of the Duke of Claymore, has never forgiven Lady Evangeline Stuart the betrayal of their love all those years ago.
Now she is widowed and he and his fellow libertine scholars have more imminent and dangerous matters to consider. The enemy who has been hounding them must be stopped.
Lady Evangeline Stuart has her own set of secrets.
Romance and intrigue are braided together in an intriguing and heart stopping fashion as these two come together again. Neither is prepared for the outcome. Can trust once lost ever be regained?

A NetGalley ARC

****

... a new story

Waking the Bear (Shifter Wars #1) by Kerry Adrienne

When ex ad agency executive, Amy Francis took off to the wilderness of Deep Creek to find herself in her painting and relax in the mountains as she determined her next move, she little knew that she was stepping into a turf war between two groups of shape shifters--bears and mountain lions.
What she did know was that she was attracted to a gentile giant of a hunk--park ranger Griff Martin and also her landlord.     
          
                                            
She didn't know about soul mates and that Griff was hers.   
Now she finds herself in the midst of the drama, being literally pawed over by Griff's arch enemy, and lion shifter, Evers.
Romance and intrigue pepper the story.
As paranormal books go, this is somewhat cliched but an ok read.

A NetGalley ARC

***

Enjoying this series!




I loved Darby and Sadie. 
Darby is a startling man. Distant, harbouring secrets, yet generous to a fault with his friends. 
Four survivors of the Bonaparte wars and prison forge a friendship that will become a mainstay for them all back in the genteel world of the ton.
Little did Darby Travers, Viscount Nailbourne, know that when he assured the prison camp's surgeon John Hamilton that he would assist him in any way possible, that that promise would in a few years time result in having a ward--of the female variety! Not only that she is accompanied by an uptight contrary aunt as chaperone, one Miss Sadie Grace Boxer.
I quite felt liked I'd walked into a shades of Oscar Wilde story with all the comings and goings of the household and friends.
Humorous and romantic with intrigue and a couple of cads thrown in gives an entertaining read.

A NetGalley ARC

****


Relics and murder!



Once again Jack Tucker comes to the fore. Crispin Guest "the Tracker" is accused of murdering a woman and has been incarcerated in Newgate. Well, there's no denying Crispin was in her bed and he awoke to find her lying dead on the floor strangled. It's up to Jack to investigate the truth and to work towards his master being declared innocent. Things do not look good!
An interesting new character makes his debut, the attorney Nigellus. I am sure we will be seeing more of him in the future. He's a great addition to the menagerie that surrounds Crispin. 
The cross dressing male whore John Rykener assists again. John and Jack have reached a new understanding.
And yes, another relic is at the root of the problem. This time the relic is a vial purporting to contain the Tears of the Virgin Mary. It is said to heal and yet cause pain and suffering to the owners in empathy for the burdened.
Two families are at odds over ownership of the tears. But will they engage in murder?
It seems though that other women are being strangled. A happenstance that relates to the case in hand.
Jack is hard put to help his master.
Meanwhile Gilbert's niece Isobel has come to reside at the tavern and Jack finds her much to his liking.
Once again we see a slice of history through Westerson's vigilant eyes. The workings of the medieval court, certainly different from today, is interestingly portrayed. The role of the prisoner and attorney in relation to whom can do what is very insightful.
Another fascinating addition to Crispin Guest's tales.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cleansing and health revisited!



The list of what is wrong with how we produce our food, how this affects our children, their potential longevity and the part played by multinational corporations, and Gmo's is damning.
These days it seems everywhere we turn, humans as harbingers of their own destruction is forecast.
Certainly it was being spoken of in the 70's. Now post millennium it is being shouted out.
Still we refuse to listen, or feel helpless, trapped by the ginormity of it all.
Certainly here is a guide to help us through the quagmire of labels, definitions, differences between natural and wild caught and a host of other issues.
Helpful for those with a mission!

A NetGalley ARC


****