Review: The Wicked Wager, by Anya Wylde

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Remember how I was writing about those books you can get for free every now and again from Amazon, and how most of them happen to be romance? Well, this was one of them. I initially picked it up because the description sounded mildly interesting – and then I got to a line in the first paragraph that made me almost drop the entire thing and not even bother.

“He tilted his head and his naughty ears trembled impatiently.”

Yep.

I don’t mind silly stories, or comical ones, but the writing has to be able to grab me if that’s going to be the case, and I just about found that one line to be too much for me. Thankfully I decided to press on to see if the writing got any better. It did (slightly).

Emma and Richard are meant to be, but before they can they have to convince Emma’s uncle that they don’t need to wait on the wedding and they should be able to get married sooner rather than later. Emma heads over to her uncles place for a few weeks to convince him of their love, and Richard concocts a plan placing him as a gardener within the mansion so that he can be closer to Emma. Of course life never works out that easily, and the couple meet up with lots of complications along the way, including having to convince Richard’s close friend to pretend to be Richard when the uncle invites him over to get to know him better.

The book is an easy relaxing read, but the writing style was not one I was fond of. The bond between Emma and Richard didn’t feel ‘real’ enough, where as the relationship that budded between Catherine and Lord Raikes felt much more ‘real’ (and it felt like there was more focus on them later on in the book even though they were background characters). The book also changed gears towards the end where it felt more like a game of clue (It was Emma in the yard with a candlestick!) instead of being about the various romances going on, almost as though the author got bored of their own story line. I personally wouldn’t classify this book as a mystery since nothing mystery related actually happens until the last 5-10% of the book, but since the author herself calls it that, why not. It just felt a bit out of place and forced compared to the first half of the book.

If you’re looking for a funny, easy read with a bit of romance (all clean) and some mystery, then The Wicked Wager may be just what you’re looking for, especially for the price.

3/5 stars

Review: Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

16158558Every so often, especially on days of high stress, I sit down and read a book that requires very little thought or involvement from me. That’s not a negative comment, either. I think books like these are almost required for my sanity, and of course I personally feel that it doesn’t matter what a person is reading, so long as they are.

Dark Witch was one of those books. The story was a predictable love story that we have come to expect from Nora Roberts. It revolves around Iona, and the discovery that she has some magical talents. She moves from the US to Ireland to seek out her family and learn about these talents from her cousins. Everything seems to fall into place perfectly, and she doesn’t meet up with any resistance at all when it comes to finding a new place to live, new friends, and a great job that happens to be exactly what she wants to do in life. Some days I wish life actually worked that way.

Of course Iona meets a dark and brooding man who doesn’t quite understand her and who she can’t quite understand. There’s a ‘bad guy’ who has set out to harm the cousins and those close to Iona (and her cousins), and they have to come together to defeat him. There’s magic and love and tension – but the characters lack any depth, and I found myself annoyed with Iona. She’s very flat and one dimensional and I couldn’t get interested in her at all. This book also very closely mimics the Three Sisters trilogy, which perhaps the author was trying to emulate. In my opinion it fell short. It mimics many other trilogy that Nora Roberts has written, including the Key Trilogy, the Gallaghers of Ardmore, Three Sisters Island, or the Sign of Seven. They all share the same basic plot. After a while, you just get tired of reading the same thing.

3/5 stars

 

Review: The Next Always by Nora Roberts

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I’ve been a fan of Nora Roberts for years now, ever since my Mom introduced me to her books. I think I was lucky growing up, books were always a big deal and we always lived close to a library if I didn’t have the money to buy a book. These days it’s even easier with ebooks. Anyway.

The Next Always starts out with three brothers restoring a hotel, and a mother who has three boys, recently widowed. They live in a comfortable country town, and the hotel that is being restored is haunted by a ghost – but she plays a very minor role, which is a bit of a shame because I think the story could have been told better (maybe it will in future books). Anyway, the book follows down the usual romantic path. Mother falls in love with one of the brothers, is being harassed by a man in the town, brothers come to her aid, story ends up happily ever after.

I’m not saying it was a bad book, but it wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. Maybe I just wasn’t interested in reading a romance, or maybe over the years I’ve just gotten bored of this style of writing. It feels like Nora Roberts books are all the same, and I can easily predict what will happen. For some people this isn’t much of an issue, but for me it just didn’t settle as well as I would have liked by the time I finished reading.

3/5 stars

 

Review: The MacKinnon’s Bride, by Tanya Anne Crosby

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I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like thinking. I picked up this book back in April when I was doing a lot of travelling and I completely forgot to write a review when I finished reading, so it’s a bit late. It helped that I also got the book free on Amazon during a promotion. You can never go wrong with free books.

This highland romance novel was about Iain MacKinnon and his son (who is kidnapped at the beginning by the English). In retaliation for the kidnapping, Iain captures the daughter of his enemy, expecting to use her as a bargaining tool. Things don’t work out in his favour though as the English laird doesn’t want her back. She is of course, furious at being kidnapped, and in a typical romance story sort of way, they fall for each other while the rest of the MacKinnon clan look on with disapproval.

I didn’t start getting into the story until the last 25% or so. It felt like there was a lot of “filler” material throughout, as though the author was trying to meet some sort of page deadline. I enjoyed the basic story, but the characters (for me) fell short. I grew frustrated with Page as soon as I met her. One minute she seems hell bent on getting her way and is a ferocious lion and the next second she’s as brainless as a scarecrow without any real reason.

Still, it was exactly the type of book I was looking to read, and I suppose I got what I was looking for.

3/5 Stars

 

Review: The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion

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After reading a lot of books from one genre I like to relax with something completely different. The Rosie project was the perfect book.

Don Tillman is a scientist, and he’s every single stereotype in the book. Socially awkward, single, devoting all of his time to work. He attempts to look for a wife by creating the Wife Project, a complex questionnaire with the purpose of finding a lifetime partner. It’s supposed to eliminate candidates that don’t match and thus save him time, but that was before he met Rosie.

Rosie is the complete opposite of everything he is looking for, and she needs his help. She’s looking for her real father, and since he’s a scientist with access to a lab, he can help by running DNA tests. They team up and begin the Father Project, eventually concocting elaborate schemes to obtain DNA samples to test. Don starts diverting from his strict schedule as he and Rosie work together, and he spends a lot of time thinking about how enjoyable the entire process is.

Predictably the pair begin to fall for one another, and this process is filled with all of the social awkwardness that you would expect.  I found Don’s interactions amusing, and you can’t take it too seriously. The book is lighthearted and a quick read with some twists and turns but nothing particularly astounding. Some nights, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

4 / 5 stars

Review: Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer

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I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review, my thanks to the publishers.

I’m not sure what sparked my interest in this book, I think it was a whim more than anything else. Perhaps the fact that it showed up listed in a NetGalley email which should say something for those types of promotions working at least.

Readers first learn about Allie Collins and her family through a lot of bickering between them all. She has been sent to her family’s summer cottage with a friend of hers, and her extended family. All her and her family does is fight. The cottage is the location of a pretty horrific accident that happened a previous year so it is no wonder that she doesn’t want to be there. She meets Damien while she’s there, but you’re introduced to him because of the way he keeps stalker Allie. Well, perhaps stalking is too harsh a word, he just ‘turns up’ wherever she is.

I had a really hard time believing any of the characters. It felt like they weren’t completely fleshed out, and their conversations and even actions felt lacking. When I first began reading the book it felt as though I had been thrust part way into some other novel without any real explanation on what was going on or why these people were acting and reacting the way they were.

In a very ‘Twilight-esc” way, Allie starts to get interested in ‘bad boy’ Damien. While there are glimmers of a strong female character in there, her actions constantly leave me frustrated. Try as I might I just could not get into the writing style or the story. Things do pick up later on, as you start to realize what’s going on and the mystery surrounding the main characters, but you have to read through a good portion of the book before that starts to happen.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is a young adult book. While the story is ‘romance’ at its core with some pretty heavy themes, the writing style is meant to appeal to a younger audience, and it shows. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just wasn’t the book for me.

2.5 / 5 stars

Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

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From time to time I really enjoy reading a good historical romance, and The Duke of Shadows offered me just that. You first meet up with Emmaline Martin as her world is torn apart while she travels from Britain to India. She is to meet her betrothed but along the way deals with incredible heartache that leaves her falling for Julian instead. The book takes place in the 1800s and if you’re tired of meek mellow women as main characters – then this is the book for you.

I had a hard time putting it down, I’m pretty sure I read all of it in two days or so. The characters are richly detailed and the story is so incredible that you can’t help but continue along trying to find out what happens next. Writing about the British rule in India is certainly not an easy topic and the story was actually believable, while being both entertaining and horrifying at the same time. The author doesn’t dance around the acts of violence that took place, but at the same time there is a harmonious balance between those acts and everything else going on. Of course there are also some pretty detailed sex scenes, it is, after all, a romance book. If you enjoy historical romance at all I highly recommend giving this book a read.

4.5 / 5 stars