Saturday, January 16, 2021

Someday My Duke Will Come


Someday My Duke Will Come (Island of Synne 2)-Christina Britton


Release Date: January 12, 2021

Rating: đŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“š

Synopsis: Lady Clara Ashford had no intention of ever getting married. A rogue took advantage of her innocence when she was young, and she's spent her whole life trying to make sure no one finds out. But now that her sister is engaged, Clara's well-meaning aunt has set her sights on Clara. Desperate to avoid the matchmaking schemes, Clara's not sure what to do -- until her neighbor, the new Duke of Reigate, shows up on her doorstep in need of her help.

Quincy Nesbitt reluctantly accepted the dukedom after his brother's death, but he'll be damned if he accepts his brother's fiancÊe as well. The only polite way to decline is to become engaged to someone else -- quickly. Lady Clara has the right connections and happens to need him as much as he needs her. But he soon discovers she's also witty and selfless, and if he's not careful, he just might lose his heart.

This was a book that had all my emotions invested in it: full of humor, heartache, tenderness, romantic love, and love for family. From the beginning you are invested in Clara, a woman who has devoted herself to being useful to her family because a secret from her past means she believes she cannot have a husband and family of her own. Her little sister is engaged and Clara is dealing with some up-coming empty nest panic- who is she when she doesn't have a sister to care for? She's so used to emotionally isolating herself from everyone, including her family, that she seems to have convinced herself that she has no worth outside of what she can do for others.  

Quincy lost his father when he was young, and ran away from home (and England) rather than deal with his cold and cruel mother.  Returning to England to visit friends, he decides to visit home and get some closure- only to discover his three older brothers are dead and he has inherited the dukedom he never expected or wanted! Taking over the estates means abandoning dreams of travel to try to repair the damage done by his brothers but worse, it means living near his mother.  Quincy may play the devil-may-care charmer to the outside world, but he is a man who cares about doing what is right, even if it means sacrificing his own dreams.

The fake engagement between Clara and Quincy is the answer to both their problems- but of course it becomes far too real since both already had feelings for the other.  I enjoyed seeing how they supported each other in difficult times, always providing what the other needed to solve whatever problem there was, even if that problem was their own emotional turmoil.  They really are a perfect partnership and I was cheering all the way for them to finally realize it.

This was the first Christina Britton book I read, but I will definitely be reading others by her. The second in a series, but I didn't feel like I was lost for not having read the first book already. Though now I will certainly go back and find it.  "Someday My Duke Will Come" is a lovely story of friendship and partnership, discovering yourself and how sometimes another can see you better than you yourself can- and they can help you discover the best in yourself.  Well-written and emotionally captivating, a great read!

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

All the Colors of Night


All the Colors of Night (Fogg Lake #2)- Jayne Ann Krentz

Berkley Publishers

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Rating: đŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“š

Synopsis: North Chastain possesses a paranormal talent that gives him the ability to track down the most dangerous psychic criminals. When his father suddenly falls into a coma-like state, North is convinced it was caused by a deadly artifact that traces back to the days of a secret government program known only as the Bluestone Project. North knows his only hope of saving his father is to find the artifact. He is good when it comes to tracking down killers, but to locate the relic he’s going to need help from a psychic who knows the shadowy world of obsessive collectors, deceptive dealers and ruthless raiders.…

With her reputation in ruins after a false accusation, antiques expert Sierra Raines is looking for a fresh start. She turns to the murky backwaters of the paranormal artifacts trade, finding and transporting valuable objects with a psychic provenance. When North Chastain approaches her for help, Sierra takes him on as a client, though not without reservations. North represents the mysterious Foundation, the secretive organization established to police the underworld populated by psychic criminals and those, like Sierra, who make a living in the shadows of that world.
North and Sierra soon find themselves at the scene of the Incident, which occurred decades ago in Fogg Lake. The town and its residents were forever changed by the disaster in the nearby Bluestone Project labs. The pair unearths shocking truths about what happened that fateful night, but they are playing with fire—someone in town knows what they’ve discovered and will do anything to make sure the secrets stay buried.

Jayne Ann Krentz continues her Fogg Lake series with Sierra Raines, a descendant of Fogg Lake residents effected by the Incident- a secret government lab experiment gone wrong that gave most of the town psychic abilities.  Sierra is a go-between in Seattle, assessing the provenance of paranormal artifacts and delivering them to collectors.  So when North Chastain arrives in town to find the artifact that put his father in a coma, she's the logical choice to help.  But they find themselves unravelling mysteries of the past, all seemingly connected to Fogg Lake and paranormal weapons that people died to protect, and killed to uncover.

This is a book about turning points, new beginnings, and closing the past. Sierra is floating through life, knowing what she does isn't her calling, but not yet sure what her calling is.  She wants to help people the way her parents do, but not in a corporate environment the way North does.  So the dangerous world of paranormal artifact collecting is as good as any in the mean time- crazy gun wielding collectors not withstanding.  North is losing his psychic abilities and has no idea what he'll do when they've gone. He is trying to figure out who he is without his talents, but saving his father comes first.  It was a really interesting and effective combination to have two strong characters who know how to handle themselves who are both also vulnerable and searching for their true path in life. 

Those who haven't read The Vanishing already won't have too much trouble coming in on book 2 of the series. While there are some overlapping characters and Fogg Lake and the Foundation remain at the center of the mysteries, All the Colors of Night can still stand on its own like any series Krentz has done.  Unusually, she gives us a bit of a teaser about what's coming up in her next Fogg Lake book, and the clues are both ominous and exciting.  It looks like I may have to recommend reading the first two books before book 3 comes out next year- which won't be a hardship to anyone! Krentz continues her easy style of writing, filling her book with light witty humor, dangerous power hungry villains, and enough psychic thrills to please any paranormal romance reader. Long time Krentz/Quick/Castle readers will be happy when the Arcane Society finally gets mentioned here, with a few clues that they are still running.  Will we see Arcane and the Jones family return to center stage in book three? Will Arcane and the Foundation have to work together to handle dangerous paranormal weapons and the remnants of Vortex? We have a year to wait and find out, but another Amanda Quick book this spring to help us fill the void.     

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Give Way To Night


Give Way To Night (Aven Book 2)- Cass Morris

DAW Publishing

Release Date: December 29, 2020

Rating: đŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“š

Synopsis: Latona of the Vitelliae, mage of Spirit and Fire, is eager to wield her newfound empowerment on behalf of the citizens of Aven--but societal forces conspire to keep her from exercising her gifts, even when the resurgence of a banished cult plots the city's ruin. To combat this threat, Latona must ally with Fracture mage Vibia, the distrustful sister of Sempronius Tarren.

While Latona struggles to defend their home, Sempronius leads soldiers through wartorn provinces to lift the siege of Toletum, where Latona's brother Gaius is hemmed in by supernatural forces. Sempronius must contend not only with the war-king Ekialde and his sorcerers, but with the machinations of political rivals and the temptations of his own soul, ever-susceptible to the darker side of ambition.

Though separated by many miles soon after their love affair began, Latona and Sempronius are united by passion as they strive to protect Aven and build its glorious future.

In Give Way To Night, book two of Cass Morris' fantastic Aven Cycle series, Morris weaves together the continuing trials of Latona, Sempronius, and their families. In Aven, Morris' fantasy version of ancient Rome, Latona is beginning to step out of the shadows and assert her identity, developing her magical abilities and confidence. On the other side of the continent her brother Gaius is trying to withstand a siege by the war-king Ekialde, who is using dark magics to destroy those who stand against him.  Attempting to rescue Gaius, Sempronius is leading three legions of troops to lift the siege and runs into the dark magic himself.  Coincidentally (or not), Latona is discovering similar dark magic in Aven, and she and her allies are the only ones willing to root it out.

Latona continues as the main character in Night, and she is in some ways more sure of herself while in other ways more conflicted than before.  Thanks to Sempronius' support she now believes in her talents, and is willing to not only continue experimenting with her abilities but using them.  She has a sense of duty that rivals any soldier, but sees her duty as standing for the citizens who need assistance through magic.  Interestingly, although we got rid of the Dictator Ocella in the beginning of the first book, his shadow continues to be felt throughout this book.  The reader gets more of an idea of what happened to individual citizens, like Latona, here. I appreciated how some characters like Vibia, who thought she knew Latona because of rumors, discover how wrong they were and who the person behind the rumors truly is. Night is full of strong female characters who are continuing to discover and use their strength here: Vibia, Aula, and Alhena all get more page time and are wonderful to get to know further.

If you haven't read Cass Morris' first book, From Unseen Fire, you are missing out on a fantastic new voice in the fantasy realm. Give Way To Night proves that she intends to continue writing intricate plots, with layers upon layers of political, personal, and magical threads woven together into a brilliant whole.  Her world building skills only develop further here, with detailed descriptions that make the reader feel as if they are marching with Sempronius' armies, or walking Aven's streets with Aula and Latona.  Morris has clearly done a lot of careful research to bring ancient Rome to life and clearly thought carefully about what she wants to change for her own world, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

While a reader could pick up Give Way To Night without having read From Unseen Fire, it would definitely be helpful to have read Fire first to get to know some of the characters and their conflicts from the beginning.  Readers should also be warned that Night ends on a cliff hanger, leaving us more desperate than usual to read the next book and discover how Morris will get her characters through the problems she's gotten them into. 

Unlike many sequels, Give Way to Night stands equal to From Unseen Fire and will charm fantasy lovers completely.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Dark Archive

Dark Archive (Invisible Library 7)- Genevieve Cogman

Penguin Random House/Ace 

Release Date: December 29, 2020

Rating: đŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“š

Synopsis:  Irene is teaching her new assistant the fundamentals of a Librarian's job, and finding that training a young Fae is more difficult than she expected. But when they're the targets of kidnapping and assassination attempts, she decides that learning by doing is the only option they have left ... 

In order to protect themselves, Irene and her friends must do what they do best: search for information to defeat the overwhelming threat they face and identify their unseen enemy. To do that, Irene will have to delve deeper into her own history than she ever has before, face an ancient foe, and uncover secrets that will change her life and the course of the Library forever.

Genevieve Cogman (The Secret Chapter) returns to the worlds of the Invisible Library with a bang.  Irene and Kai are trying to hold together the tenuous peace treaty between the Fae and the dragons while stealing books for the Library and training a new apprentice.  Catherine, Fae delegate Lord Silver's neice, is probably a lot like a very young Irene and desperately wants to be a librarian and read books all the time.  The on the job training of how to avoid assassins and archvillains might not be what she'd hoped for, but at least she's learning from an expert.  But is the archvillain is question London's new Napoleon of crime, or a vicious and familiar foe? And who is the person behind the Professor? 

Irene remains the Librarian we all admire her for being: practical, full of snarky wit and crazy ideas, and one of the only people capable of keeping her hysteria to herself when all others are screaming theirs aloud. Practice makes perfect after all. She is who I want to be when I grow up. But even Irene found herself in situations throughout The Dark Archive that tested that talent there.  From the first page on she and the others are in active danger and trying to figure out who they've most recently annoyed enough to try and kill them.  Is it personal or a way to sabotage the fragile new treaty? Or are they, for once, only collateral damage as friends of detective Peregrine Vale, who is searching for clues behind a new force in London's criminal underworld?  Just as readers (and Irene) got glimpses into the secrets of dragons in The Secret Chapter, we get glimpses into the Fae here.  Catherine is the first Fae we've met still young enough to be actively considering what her archetype is going to be, and through Vale we get glimpses into the possibilities higher chaos worlds can have on someone with Fae blood.  Without giving away spoilers (like who the villains are) I can promise danger, fire, and destroying stained glass windows along with shocking revelations and clues to even more secrets.  It's a busy few days even by Irene's standards!

Cogman has some serious "wow" moments in Dark Archive and is clearly setting up her readers (and her heroes) for some massive "whoa" moments in future books.  Not a cliffhanger ending (thank you Genevieve!) but one that will leave you desperate to see what happens next. While some of this book will be easier to follow for those who have already read the rest of the series, newcomers will not feel totally lost starting here. A great new chapter in the Invisible Library series!

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Monday, December 7, 2020

History of British Baking

 A History of British Baking: From Blood Bread to Bake-Off- Emma Kay

Pen & Sword

Release Date: December 7, 2020



Synopsis: The British have been baking for centuries. Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive account of how our relationship with this much-loved art has changed, evolved and progressed over time.

Renowned food historian and author, Emma Kay, skillfully combines the related histories of Britain's economy, innovation, technology, health, cultural and social trends with the personal stories of many of the individuals involved with the whole process: the early pioneers, the recipe writers, the cooks, the entrepreneurs. The result is a deliciously fascinating read, one that will prove to be juicer than the juiciest of juicy baked goods.

In A History of British Baking: From Blood Bread to Bake-Off food historian Emma Kay gives readers a well-researched history of baking in England.  The general focus remains on bread- that staple no matter the social class- but pastries, tarts, and cakes are all included.  This is a history of the social, technological, and cultural changes in Britain from Roman occupancy to the present day as seen through baking.  Where did certain foods originate?  How did they come to Britain? How did baking change over the centuries? How did travel, trade, and conquest influence baking?  Kay traces it all back as far as possible, and does an excellent job of including the influence of immigrants on baking in Britain.  I particularly enjoyed the early chapters where she includes mentions of bread in early literature and describes the superstitions surrounding bread through medieval England.  She also includes some historical recipes ranging from medieval pies to Waldorf pudding to mooncakes.  This is not primarily a recipe book, but the included recipes add an extra element- especially the early recipes that are clearly written to feed a whole castle!

The copy I read was an advance copy and I have to hope that additional editing takes place before the book is finally released. While there was a general timeline to the book the writing was often disjointed, bouncing back and forth in time and making some of the historical progress hard to follow. Additionally, plenty of unfinished sentences made some of Kay's ideas hard to follow. She also tends to bounce from topic to topic and might have almost done better following, for example, the history of pies in one chapter and pastries in another.  You can see why she didn't though, the social and legal trends for baking we see apply to all aspects of British baking and make more sense in a chronological order. Still, more editing and tighter writing would have greatly improved the presentation of this fascinating food history.

Overall Kay's writing is accessible to all, a casual academic style that will appeal to casual readers as well as serious academic food historians.  She writes as if speaking to the reader, sharing stories and opinions with the same ease as she traces the historical origins of hardtack.  This well-researched and highly interesting book will appeal to bakers, food historians, and those just interested in learning a little more about British history as seen through its bakes.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke


Ten Things I Hate About The Duke (Difficult Dukes #2)- Loretta Chase


Release Date: December 1, 2020

Rating: đŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“šđŸ“š

Synopsis: Cassandra Pomfret holds strong opinions she isn’t shy about voicing. But her extremely plain speaking has caused an uproar, and her exasperated father, hoping a husband will rein her in, has ruled that her beloved sister can’t marry until Cassandra does.


Now, thanks to a certain wild-living nobleman, the last shreds of Cassandra’s reputation are about to disintegrate, taking her sister’s future and her family’s good name along with them. 


The Duke of Ashmont’s looks make women swoon. His character flaws are beyond counting. He’s lost a perfectly good bride through his own carelessness. He nearly killed one of his two best friends. Still, troublemaker that he is, he knows that damaging a lady’s good name isn’t sporting.


The only way to right the wrong is to marry her…and hope she doesn’t smother him in his sleep on their wedding night.


London's Society considers Cassandra Pomfret a shrew, a hoyden, a virago, and a gorgon.  In other words, she's intelligent and not willing to pretend otherwise for the sake of delicate male sensibilities. She stands up for others, is interested in political reforms that will help the poor, and doesn't suffer fools- at all.  This includes the man she once had a childhood crush on, the Duke of Ashmont.  She thought he would grow up to be a hero, a man who could accomplish great things to help others.  Instead, he doesn't seem to have grown up at all.  He and his friends are known for outrageous pranks, drinking, fighting, and doing nothing useful with their lives.  When these two meet as adults, will the stars align or things explode?

Cassandra is a great character- a woman who is unapologetically intelligent, fearless, and believes in helping others.  She doesn't play Society's games and so Society shuns her, and she's alright with that. She helps the poor, fights with umbrellas (as weapons, not opponents), and is loyal to those she loves. And while she has no use for useless degenerates, she's fair enough to see when someone has potential- like the Duke of Ashmont.  He unknowingly broke her heart as a young lady, now she isn't going to just hand it over because he says so. She's confident enough in herself and her worth to make him earn it.

I had trouble warming up to Ashmont, who definitely doesn't come across very well in the beginning.  A drunk, a fighter, a man who seems to drown any intellect he has.  He doesn't cause trouble maliciously, but he doesn't generally think of others as he goes through life.  At first glance, not much of a hero.  But he does what so few others are willing to do- he tries to become worthy of the woman he's decided to marry.  Leave off the drinking so he can actually think.  Try to behave around the Royal family no matter how boring that makes things.  And actually listen to the lady he's falling in love with, think about what she says and what is important to her, and discover that it is also important to him.  Ashmont doesn't change to become someone he isn't for the sake of a woman, he becomes who he was always meant to be. 

Full of humor, lively dialogue, and sparkling wit, Ten Things I Hate About the Duke is a satisfying and fulfilling story and a lovely romance.  I will definitely be reading Loretta Chase's other books while waiting for the next book in this series! 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Archangel's Sun


Archangel's Sun (Guild Hunters #13)- Nalini Singh

Berkley Publishing

Release Date: November 24, 2020


Synopsis:The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on—especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence.

It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires.

There is no one left . . . but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now, she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift . . . .

In the aftermath of war, the survivors are left to pick up the pieces.  When archangels fight, that takes on a whole new meaning.  Archangels Lijuan and Charisemmnon may be dead but their legacy continues in the flesh-eating, zombie-like reborn creatures infesting the world- in particular, Africa.  Archangel Titus and his people have been fighting them nonstop since the war's end but need more help to turn the tide.  Help comes from an unlikely source: the Hummingbird.  An Ancient who lost millennia trapped in the broken kaleidoscope of her mind, she is known and revered as a great artist.  But now that she is fully awake, the Hummingbird proves equal to any task set to her.  Perhaps even gaining the love of an archangel.

 The world is rebuilding from war, but also the Hummingbird, Lady Sharine, is rebuilding her life after centuries spent in her own broken mind. Here we learn her past, and the traumas that caused her to retreat from life.  And here we (and she) learn who the Lady Sharine truly is. A woman of strength and humor, courage and tenderness, she turns out to be the perfect person to help Titus and his people.  It is wonderful to see her become herself, to discover her strengths and what she can do to help not only the world, but the people who she loves.

Just as Sharine is not who we necessarily expect her to be, Titus has layers and hidden depths that make him a brilliant general, a compassionate leader, and a good man.  He's more than the loud and gruff soldier we met in earlier books, but is far too used to his own way.  Watching him spar words with Sharine, and his reactions as she treats him just like anyone else instead of the Archangel of Africa, is entertaining every time.
As you would expect from a book by Nalini Singh, Archangel's Sun is beautifully written, intense, and thought-provoking. The relationship that develops between Titus and Sharine is wonderful, and the scenes between Sharine and her sons (adopted and born) are beautiful.  The reader sees the world through the eyes of an artist, and descriptions of the land and its people are rich in color and beauty.  Archangel's Sun picks up after the events of Archangel's War and it will definitely help the reader to have read that book, if not others, before starting this one.  But if this is the first Guild Hunter book someone is starting with, while a few of the people referenced won't mean anything to them already, Archangel's Sun is still a fascinating and intense story of rebuilding life. A must read!

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review