When Gods Die by C.S. Harris...continuing saga.

May 24, 2011

OMG! I'm hooked!

Just finished When Gods Die, plunging into Why Mermaids Sing. I'm hoping to have this one finished before my new romances come in! Now, let me say this about this series - love Sebastian St. Cyr and his peeps! There are so many continuing story lines going on that I have to finish this series just to find out who did what to who when and why. There are all the wonderful supporting cast and because I'm a romance reader I can see something coming between Sebastian and the character Hero... even though supposedly Kat Boleyn is Sebastian's soul mate.

, this is not a romance book, but a mystery, so let's talk about the particular mystery in When Gods Die. I didn't figure this one out till the end; I didn't really try and I didn't care. I actually was a tad bit bored with the mystery part of the book although I found the victim, her husband, and her lover all to be fascinating characters. Ms. Harris is a master of establishing great characters. I think why this book didn't work for me was because it was more about Sebastian and less about the murder/mystery solving. Weirdly enough, that is also where the book works for me. I'm finding the world that Sebastian inhabits to be completely engrossing. And, I love Tom the pickpocket turned tiger... there were some very poignant moments in this book involving his character.

As in the previous book, there is a wonderful feel of place. London is betrayed in all its gritty splendor. We even have a chase scene through the sewers. This was another Sebastian "Jason Bourne" St. Cyr moment. And, how many times can a man be shot, stabbed and banged over the head before he is seriously injured? I'm not sure how I feel about reading chase scenes as opposed to watching chase scenes; they are both pretty tiring.

So, this book comes with a warning: if you are a big mystery fan this book will be a disappointment because the murder-mystery is the weakest part of When Gods Die. If you don't mind occasional contemporary words that at times can be a tad bit jarring, you will find this a light, fast read. If you like strong character development, you'll enjoy this book and become captivated by Sebastian as I have been.

And by the way, your history lesson for the day - Bow Street Runners were established in 1749 by Henry Fielding (author of Tom Jones), and disbanded in 1839. They were London's first professional police force (originally six men), so the use of them in this book is historically accurate! There were also the Peelers and eventually Scotland Yard. There's an interesting website http://www.learnhistory.org.uk/cpp/index.html in case you are interested in crime, England, and history.

Time/Place: Regency England
Rating: Mystery: Sebastian's World:
Sensuality Rating: Don't blink


TBR Challenge, What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris

May 20, 2011

There are enough red herrings in this book to feed the multitude!

I bought this book in 2005 because I love Candice Proctor's romance books, especially the ones taking place in the South Pacific. And, then I put it in my pile. There are so many times when an author changes genres and their work just isn't as good, so, I put off reading this until the challenge showed up knocking on my door. And, now that I've read it I am of course going to have to read the others in the St. Cyr series!

Because I am such a big fan of Candice Proctor, it is inevitable that I compare her previous writing with her camouflage of C.S. Harris. I have to say, I prefer her Candice Proctor writing; however, that didn't stop me from appreciating this book. As I read it, I realized that there were tons of unanswered questions being thrown in my path that I'm sure in future books will get answered. What Angels Fear is a great introduction into another mysterious world and all those wonderful characters which are going to inhabit it.

Ms. Harris also displayed some of the trademark descriptive language which made her romance novels so convincing. When she talks about the yellow fog, you can actually see it, feel it. And the world Sebastian St. Cyr plunges into is downright gritty; I could almost smell the sewage. Now, I don't read mysteries, at least not anymore, but I have read Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, and Ellis Peters and I would have to say that What Angels Fear has that same feel about it. It's a fast, light, suspenseful read, even with all of the gruesome death details, grave robbers and old-fashioned autopsies. Even when occasional modern verbiage reared its head, I had no problem envisioning 1811 London. I do have to say that even though I liked the character of Sebastian St. Cyr, he's no Hercule Poirot. He took so many wrong turns into red herring land, I was surprised when the light bulb finally went off. I guessed almost right away who the killer was, for no particular reason. I'm not going to tell you what gave that person away, except to say it was more of a writer thing than any clues pointing to the character.

There is a little bit of a romance, but not overpowering. It's mostly Sebastian running around like Jason Bourne, just one step ahead of the people who are chasing him, trying to prove that he's not the murderer. He does the same things that most action guys do - jumps out of buildings, off of roofs, dives through windows, and doesn't get hurt. So this has a bit of mystery, intrigue, action, romance, to say nothing of all the character development going on. Busy, busy, busy book!

There are some characters in the story who are pretty strong: Sebastian's father, Amanda, the grave diggers, the doctor, Kat Boleyn (his paramour, who I didn't care for), Jarvis (his antagonist), Lovejoy (the good cop), Tom the pickpocket turned sidekick, and Jarvis's daughter, all of whom I'm looking forward to seeing again. While Sebastian may not be the most brilliant detective ever, he is a great character and Ms. Harris has created a wonderful world for future whodunits. In the end, I did like this book and glad I finally dusted it off.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm


Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean

May 15, 2011
Whew - what a read!
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart is the third in the Love by Numbers series; however, don't let the title fool you into thinking this is a light fluffy read - it isn't! This is an amazing, character-driven, tension filled love story and I had a hard time putting it down.

I liked the first book in the series, the second not so much, but with this one Sarah MacLean has struck gold. Some very good writing, Ms. MacLean! She has created quite an emotional roller coaster with two strong people at cross purposes who eventually find what they need in each other.

We have Simon, our Duke, the hero. His nickname is the Duke of Disdain, and boy is he. He's uptight, cold, condemning and proud. For him propriety and family are one - there never, ever must be a hint of scandal - nothing to embarrass his fine aristocratic family. He is a hard man. Enter Juliana - everything about her is opposite of his world. Her family is scandalous, her birth questionable, she doesn't fit in well with society, she creates scandal and havoc wherever she goes - and she is honest - at least as far as she perceives truth. Of course, these two are attracted to each other - and from that initial encounter it is a fascinating journey as they both struggle against the inevitable. (By the way, their first meeting was in the previous book.)

The secondary characters are well-rounded and do not distract from the story. There is a rather humorous moment when Ralston realizes Simon's going to be his brother-in-law. There are also no villains, unless you count the two horrible mothers. These two women make Mommie Dearest look like Mary Poppins - no filial affection from these two. The interesting thing about the mothers, I thought, was you could see a reflection of their children in them and what the probable future could have been for Simon and Juliana.

Now, there were times that I found Simon too hurtful, but that only made Juliana stronger. And Juliana's "I'm not good enough" routine was a little wearing. However, Miss MacLean has written a marvelous story and it's one you really don't want to miss!

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm

P.S. Ms. MacLean - I loved both Caroline and Benedick - hope to see them in future books - They deserve their HEA also!


Ripe for Pleasure by Isobel Carr

May 11, 2011

Well, I'm torn
I have been impatiently waiting the arrival of the first in the series of The League of the Second Sons, Ripe for Pleasure by Isobel Carr. You remember Ms. Carr - she used to be Kalen Hughes and let me tell you I was pretty upset when she was shafted by her publishing company. Of course, she wasn't the only author to be shafted, but luckily she's one who found another publisher. (I still have my fingers crossed for some other authors.) Anyway, I've been waiting and waiting for this one to come out. Which is why I'm torn.

This book had a number of things I liked a lot... but there were some things that I didn't like so much. Which to do first? Let's go with the good things. I loved the time period, Georgian, with all the clothing, hoops, flue-flue, wigs; it's such a lush period. It's lush in clothing and in morals, and Ms. Carr does a fine job of exploring that time period. The secondary characters were all intriguing and developed pretty well for the amount of time they were in the book. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Beau (Leo's sister) in the next book. And, the hero's (Leo) friends, the second sons - I kept hearing "hunka-hunka men" in my mind while reading this story. All of his friends had different interesting personalities, they were not just a group of manly sequels. I loved the hero's family: they were funny, eccentric and hopefully we will see more of them. The heroine, Viola, wasn't a virgin - oh no my dears, she's a courtesan and she's not a pretend courtesan either. Nope, she's had numerous men in her boudoir and she's writing her memoirs, so, she's been at it for awhile. So, those parts of the story were very intriguing.

Where I was disappointed was in the development of the love story itself. Oh, there was lots and lots and lots of really hot sex, in all kinds of places, all kinds of ways, but even with all of that sex, I didn't feel any chemistry between the two main characters. Neither Viola or Leo had any personality, at least when they were with each other. I saw a spark of personality when Leo was with his friends and I thought Viola's interaction with Leo's mother was wonderful, but when they were together all that they had was the sex, and that wasn't enough. (Speaking of sex - and there was tons of it in this book - their first time together was missing. At least I couldn't find it and I went back and reread the passage because I thought I'd missed it. So, that was a little puzzling.) The villain was another piece that was odd. We know from the beginning that he's the villain, he even gets shot but still he's around causing trouble. No one seems to keep an eye on him, and he keeps showing up like a bad penny. Once a villain's down, he shouldn't rise again. That's my motto.

So, as I said earlier, I'm torn with this book. I like some of the characters, just not the main ones; love the time/place and am looking forward to the next in the series. I just wish this one had lived up to my expectations.

Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality Rating: Scorcher


Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter

May 5, 2011

Castleford's back! And Daphne's got him!


Madeline Hunter is an incredible writer; her voice can be poignant and it can be funny. In the case of Dangerous in Diamonds, both of these qualities merge into a truly wonderful tale and a great ending to an entertaining series.

So, finally we have Castleford's story and I was pleased with it, although, in my world enough time has passed that I kind of forgot what was going on with him. I do remember, though, that Castleford had the makings to be a memorable romance hero and could have fit into my list of favorite heroes: Dain, Lord of Scoundrels; Derek, Dreaming of You; Ian, The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie; Reginald, The Rake; Harry, As You Desire. However, although I did love Castleford after I read the book, he just didn't quite make it into that list.

Castleford had all the ingredients it takes to make a memorable romance hero. He is a whoremonger; in fact, I'm sure that if he had been anyone other than fictional, he'd have numerous diseases. He was a drunk and not the kind of drunk that can easily quit... you see, he always made it a rule to be sober on Tuesday which leaves six days to roll around in a drunken stupor. Not an easy fix. And, he's wonderfully sarcastic and interfering. All the ingredients for a great reformed hero!!!

And, then we have Daphne. She's got secrets. If you remember the past books, the whole Rarest Bloom fellowship was based on secrets. And the object of each book is to uncover that secret and reform a rake in the process. Now, I liked Daphne - she seemed to me to be a mature heroine who could hold her own against Castleford, or at least try. He was rather overwhelming when he wanted something, and he wanted Daphne. When these two came together, it was exquisite - fantastic dialogue, wonderful bantering and a lot of struggling against each other, then finally caving. Yes, they were a magnificent couple.

There were also some pretty funny moments... s-p-o-i-l-e-r: she won't sleep/sleep in his bed. I mean physically get in or have sex in his old bed which has had buckets of women in it before her. Which leads to a chuckle-filled fond farewell bed scene with Castleford and his friends that I thoroughly enjoyed. In fact the camaraderie in the book between the males was highly amusing and great fun to read. There is also the very amusing doctor's exam to prove Castleford is free from any disease. Even though it may have been a bit contemporary, it was still fun.

I said earlier that Castleford had all the ingredients for being a landmark hero; however, he didn't quite make it and I think it had to do with some of the things in the story that I found just a little weak. Besides the love story, which in my opinion was actually the only plot we needed in the story, there were a number of other little scenarios going on and because we have all those other little side plots nattering away Castleford was shorted a great voice. He was such a great character, had a lot to say, he really needed to be bigger than life. Then I would have been happy. There are also some really fast tying of loose ends at the ending of the story that had a rushed feel about them, as if an editor ordered words cut before publication - and I wish the practice of shorter books would go away.

Overall, this was a good read and it almost made its way to my favorite in the series. Ravishing in Red is still my favorite, followed by Dangerous in Diamonds, Sinful in Satin, Provocative in Pearls. I'm also not sure whether this is completely a stand alone book; it helps if you are familiar with the hero when you begin this book. Plus, there are some things mentioned in this book that may have you scratching your head if you haven't read the other three.

Bottom line... good book and you should read it!

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: