Kim’s Guest Review of Passionate Persuasion by Rosemary Clement-Moore

pprcmIf you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s Persuasion but prefer your romances to take place in this century, let me tell you about Rosemary Clement-Moore’s novella Passionate Persuasion.

Alex realizes he messed up hugely years ago when he broke up with his college girlfriend Kiara. When life throws the two of them back together years later he knows he has to somehow win her back. Will he be able to repair the damage he did to Kiara’s heart and claim her for his own?

For a direct link to my review, click here.

Kim’s Guest Review of Almost Persuaded by P.O. Dixon

appodJane Austen has given us countless characters to love: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, Captain Frederick Wentworth, Elinor & Marianne Dashwood, and so many others. Sprinkled within the pages of her beloved novels she’s also given us many lesser-known, lesser-developed characters that readers have been able to flesh out and develop with their own imaginations. Author P.O Dixon has decided to take Mary King, “that nasty freckle-faced girl,” who was almost engaged to Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and write her story in Almost Persuaded.  My review of this short novella is my latest post over at Austenprose.

For a direct link to my review, click here.

#115 A Review of Mr. Darcy Bites Back by Mary Lydon Simonsen

mrdarcybitesbackOctober of 2011 marked my introduction to Mr. Darcy’s Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen.  I remember being so impressed by Simonsen’s ability to stay true to Austen’s characters even after changing one of them into a werewolf!  I also remember writing Mary an email after finishing the novel begging her to write more of this particular story.  I’m happy to tell you that a year later she has!  Introducing the answer to my begging, Mr. Darcy Bites Back!

From Goodreads:

Someone or something is lurking in the woods of Pemberley.

As Mr. and Mrs. Darcy approach the first anniversary of their marriage, they look upon their life together as very much an idyll. With one exception. Their lives will always be ruled by the lunar cycle as the Master of Pemberley is a werewolf.

As Darcy prepares his pack for nightfall, an unsettling rumor is being spread in the village that a phantom Ghost Buck has appeared in Wentside Woods on the Darcy estate. Because Darcy does not believe the stag exists, he wants to know who started the rumor. Is it possible that someone knows of his darkest secret and is trying to draw him out?

I’m going to start out by saying that Mr. Darcy’s Bite is my favorite paranormal JAFF novel out there. (No joke I reread it like 3 times a year)  The Darcy and Elizabeth that grace the pages of that novel are truly wonderful representations of Austen’s original characters.  Fortunately, the same is true in Mr. Darcy Bites Back!  Simonsen is a pro at writing these two characters.  With almost a dozen novels to her name that have Darcy and Elizabeth included in some way, it’s no surprise that Simonsen has created two characters that have gotten better with time.  It’s as if they’re old friends now, and their story is comfortable and fun.  Fortunately there are still plenty of surprises left up Simonsen’s sleeve, adding enough twists in the plot to keep me intrigued to the end.  I hope that Simonsen continues with these particular novellas.  Adventures with werewolf Darcy and his pack would keep me entranced and coming back for more.

Mr. Darcy Bites Back has everything you’d want in a fun novella, all in a bite sized portion (no pun intended!)  It was a quick and refreshing read that recharged my reading batteries.  I can only hope that Simonsen can have a quick turnaround and come out with another great story featuring Elizabeth and Darcy soon!  This is definitely a great addition to your shelf and a fun pick-me-up.

5 out of 5 Stars

Mr. Darcy Bites Back by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Quail Creek Publishing, LLC (2012)
eBook: 301 pages
ISBN: 2940015752908

Special thanks to Ms. Simonsen for my review copy

#100-106 The Fairy Tale Series by Eloisa James

I don’t know what it is but there is something about a romantic fairy tale that just draws me in.  It could be the stories about a person of the lower classes finding love with a handsome prince or princess. Maybe it’s that a beastly man can have a magnanimous transformation completely due to the effects of the love from a steady woman? Or a woman deemed ugly suddenly finds confidence and beauty in herself because one person believes in her? Fairy tales have this mythical aura about them that make anything possible when you add love into the mix.  Love stories in general suck me in, but I get tired of reading about fairly ordinary people sometimes.  I like the stories of slumbering princesses being woken with true love’s kiss, princes willing to fight a dragon for their lady-love, etc etc.  Fairy tales at the end of the day are EPIC love stories. Who can resist them?  I’m lucky that I’ve found a fellow blogging friend, Kelly of Reading With Analysis, who is also highly in love with fairy tales.  We both started reading A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James and started discussing. (Kelly discusses her thoughts on A Kiss at Midnight here) I bought the remainder of the books in the series currently available and read them while on vacation in August. I’m super late in posting my thoughts on the series, but it’s better late than never!

The first book in the series A Kiss at Midnight is a re-imagined Cinderella story.  Cinderella, or Kate in this novel, is forced to remain an unmarried woman in her stepmother’s home for several reasons.  First, her father bequeathed his entire fortune to Kate’s stepmother and stepsister, leaving Kate to survive on their whim (those who know the story of Cinderella know where this is going).  Secondly, due to the greedy nature of Kate’s stepmother, Kate realizes she must stay at the home to try and be a buffer for all of the servants and estate folk.  Kate sacrifices her dreams of happiness to do what is best for those around her.  When an injury prevents her stepsister from making her debut at a royal party, Kate is forced to don a disguise and go in her stead or see those she cares about lose their positions.  It is at this party that she meets His Royal Highness, Prince Gabriel.  Gabriel is doing his damnedest to support a menagerie of animals and people who have been thrown out of his brother’s court.  To this extent he has promised to marry a foreign princess with a huge dowry.  However when he and Kate share a kiss at midnight everything changes…..

I really really really really love Kate and Gabriel.  The two are both willing to 100% sacrifice their own happiness for the betterment of those around them.  They are both self-sacrificing characters to a degree that while deserving of their own happy endings, refuse to accept them if everyone around then can’t have one too.  To watch them both grow as individuals from the effects of their love for each other was wonderful.  Kate has been led to believe that she’s not attractive and not worth anyone’s time or attention.  After hearing this for years, it’s set in as the truth in her mind.  Gabriel (and Kate’s godmother Henry) try to continually make her see what she looks like through their eyes.  Their efforts eventually pay off and the results are magical.  The last 80 pages are absolutely wonderful and so well written that I couldn’t wait to continue on with the series.

Final Thoughts: I wish Kate didn’t have to be one of those heroines that doesn’t realize her own worth and potential without being prodded by others, but understand its place in a Cinderella retelling.  Definitely a great start to a wonderful series.

4 out of 5 Stars

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
HarperCollins (2010)
eBook: 384 pages
ISBN: 9780062005366

As an added bonus James wrote a novella to pair with A Kiss at Midnight entitled Storming the Castle.  It revolves around Wick, Prince Gabriel’s illegitimate half-brother/butler.  Kate and Gabriel have just had their first child, Jonas.  Jonas is unfortunately a sickly baby getting thinner and thinner which has set the castle in a tizzy.  Wick has sent away for nursemaids and doctors hoping someone will be able to help young Jonas through this mysterious illness.  Phillipa Damson, gentry from a nearby village, answers the call for help to escape her pending marriage to a rather large bottomed idiot whom she’s lost her virginity to.  She arrives at the castle and is able to diagnose the baby’s illness as simple colic.  She remains at the castle for the foreseeable future caring for the baby and falling in love with Wick.  Wick refuses to begin a relationship with her however due to their differing social statues.  It’s up to Phillipa to make him realize that love is more important than social rankings.  Will she be able to convince him?

I’ve loved Wick since first reading about him in A Kiss at Midnight.  He always had a great head on his shoulders and his relationship with Gabriel was extremely touching.  I have to say that I’m slightly disappointed with his story.  Phillipa is a great match for him, but her story is…..kinda stupid.  Her fiancée has loved her since he was a boy, truly.  There are lines in the story where she says she can see the love he holds for her in his eyes.  He seemed to get shit on simply for having a large bottom and being a bit on the dumb side.  If he had mistreated her I could understand her sudden unwillingness to marry him.  I do hope to see Wick again in the future, as his epilogue made me smile a goofy grin.

Final Thoughts: For a novella I guess I shouldn’t be expecting tons of character development.

3 out of 5 Stars

Storming the Castle by Eloisa James
HarperCollins (2010)
eBook: 100 pages
ISBN: 9780062074058

Book two, When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a re-imagined version of Beauty and the Beast, which just so happens to be my favorite fairy tale! Piers Yelverton plays quite the beast in this tale.  As the Earl of Marchant, he lives in a secluded castle in Wales where his medical diagnostician expertise is well-known.  Piers’ father, determined to continue on the family line, looks for a wife for his son.  Piers’ temper precedes him, however, and rumors abound as to his treatment of those who seek medical help there.  Rumors also swirl around Linnet Thrynne, who the Ton believes to be pregnant although there is no truth to the rumor.  Even so, Linnet becomes betrothed to Piers by his father in the hopes that her “pregnancy” will give the Earl an heir.  Will Linnet and Piers ever be able to live together despite Piers’ temper?

As of the date of this review I’ve read all the books in the fairy tale series.  Piers and Linnet hands down have the best story.  Their relationship of sparring wits was such a pleasure to read and kept me snickering throughout the whole book.  Piers is exactly like House (yes, the House from the TV show), with his bum leg, short temper, and incredible medical diagnostic skills.  Everyone pretty much allows him to run rough shod over them due to their fear of his anger.  In comes Linnet with her high society manners that hide her bluestocking, intelligent wit.  When her and Piers start going at it, he quickly realizes that this woman could be trouble.  Piers knows that his penchant for misery and unhappiness is self-made and Linnet forces him to re-evaluate its worth.  Linnet on the other hand realizes her courtly manners and practiced flirting mean nothing to this untamed beast.  If she truly wishes to earn his heart she must be herself, forget what society dictates, and force him to see how much he needs her. I seriously want to just keep gushing over this book and these two characters.  They’re not your ordinary romance heroine/hero, aka the female in need of rescuing and the hero to do it.  In essence the roles are reversed here, making Linnet the savior.

Final Thoughts: As I expected, James’s superb writing wooed me into loving this book.  Ok, ok, so did Piers.

5 out of 5 Stars

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
HarperCollins (2011)
eBook: 384 pages
ISBN: 9780062041753

Before reading book three, The Duke is Mine, I suggest reading the novella Winning the Wallflower.  The heroine of book three, Olivia, attends a ball with her friend Lucy.  Lucy has just been bequeathed a fortune from one of her relatives and is now free to look for a better engagement for herself.  Lucy’s problem though is that she’s extremely tall and not very confident in herself.  She is engaged to a man of trade who she believes to be the most handsome man in the world, the only problem is that he is disdainfully distant.  When he calls on her he barely speaks to her, he has never tried to kiss her or show any emotion with her.  When her parents force her to break her engagement with him, she decides to confront him and his cool nature hoping that he’ll open up to her and save her from being thrown back into the arms of fortune hunters.  How will the ever calm Cyrus react to this new confident Lucy?

I have to admit, I really liked Lucy.  I give her a ton of credit for demanding that love be part of her life and not settling for less.  For a woman of that time period, it wasn’t a common occurrence for love to be part of the marriage equation.  Marriage was simply a social, economic, and political decision.  Women didn’t have the ability to choose their beaus like they do today.  I’m happy that James wrote a heroine that didn’t let her parents push her into making rash decisions and chose instead to follow her own conscience.   Cyrus on the other hand proves to have a good head on his shoulders when he decides to re-evaluate the way he acts.  Lucy gives him a major talking to that forces him to step back and regroup.  His life up to this point has been exactly how he’s planned it to be and with Lucy’s sudden change in demeanor, he questions the value of his former plan.

Final Thoughts: Great novella! Definitely worth the $.99 I paid for it!

4 out of 5 Stars

Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James
HarperCollins (2011)
eBook: 100 pages
ISBN: 9780062191823

Book three, The Duke is Mine, is really The Princess and the Pea.  Tarquin, the Duke of Sconce, has quite the problem.  His mother, the matriarch of the family who wrote a widely acclaimed work on manners and decorum, is searching for a suitable Duchess to complement her son.  Tarquin’s first wife was prone to mood swings and wanton in her behavior, definitely not desirable characteristics for a Duchess  Tragically, she drowned in an accident along with their son, leaving Tarquin heartbroken.  Now, Tarquin’s mother has arranged for the Lytton sisters, Georgiana and Olivia, to come to the estate and test Georgiana’s worthiness as a potential match for Tarquin as Olivia is already betrothed   The problem is that Tarquin can’t take his eyes off of Olivia.  The opposite of her sister, Olivia is headstrong and unconventional, making Tarquin second guess his mother’s attempts to woo Georgiana.  Will cutting Olivia from his thoughts be enough to resist her pull on him?  What will Tarquin’s mother make of his actions?

Of all the books in the series, I had the hardest time connecting to this one.  One of the main reasons I took issue with this book was because of the character of Olivia’s betrothed, Rupert.  Rupert had a difficult birth and was left without air to his brain for some time.  As such he has developmental issues and is on the slow side.  The fact that there is a slow character in the novel is not what I take umbrage  it’s the way the other characters, including his own father and betrothed, mock him.  Rupert is a super sweet character who wants to go off to war to prove the worth of his family name before he takes over the Dukedom and starts a family.  He cares for an abused dog, Lucy, and is just super kind to everyone he meets.  The fact that almost every character in the book makes fun of him in some way really pissed me off.  Making fun of handicapped people in any capacity is not ok and should never be used as a plot point.  I think it was really poorly done and in bad taste.

Final Thoughts: Thankfully each of the books in the series, reads as a stand-alone novel.  With that being said, I’d skip this one altogether.

2 out of 5 Stars

The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James
HarperCollins (2011)
eBook: 400 pages
ISBN: 9780062096364

Book four, The Ugly Duchess, is a new version of The Ugly Duckling.  James Ryburn, the heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, has it all.  He’s handsome, rich, and the most wanted bachelor in the Ton.  It therefore shocks everyone when he marries Theodora Saxby, a plain woman by society’s standards, considered “mannish” by many.  Theo knows this, and is skeptical, but eventually accepts his proposal.  When she soon learns the object of his desires was not her looks or wit, but instead her dowry, she is outraged and they separate.  Can James convince her that he actually loves her for who she is, or is he destined to live life apart from the “ugly Duchess”, who transforms into a beautiful swan?

::Sigh:: I really wanted to like this book.  I liked the direction of the story and was SO happy when Theo finally found confidence in herself and became a fashion icon.  She seemed to finally get some steel in her spine only to lose it when James came back from being a pirate.  I really wanted her to find a new person to love and kick weak-minded James to the curb.  Honestly, he leaves her FOR YEARS.  She repairs the debts his estates had, deals with the gossip that his abandonment incurs on her, and remains a faithful wife.  James on the other hand becomes a pirate without a care in the world, wooing women all over the globe.  It’s honestly just ridiculous.  The double standard just pissed me off.

Final Thoughts: Had Theo been given a new lover to love after James left her this would have been a five-star book.

3 out of 5

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
HarperCollins (2012)
eBook: 384 pages
ISBN: 9780062197962

So there you have it. The entire Fairy Tale series by Eloisa James to date! On October 30th, James’ newest novella, Seduced by the Pirate is being released.  It’s directly related to The Ugly Duchess.  Even though the last two books didn’t impress the hell out of me I’m still sticking with the series.  After all, who can resist a fairy tale?

This is my forty-second completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Playing Catch Up: Novella Edition

Continuing on with my trend of catching up on reviews, I present the novella edition!  A lot of the books/series I’ve been reading lately have had novellas attached to them, helping me increase my total reads for the year.  Even though they’re shorter in length I still believe they deserve to be counted towards my total goal.  (Some of them are really freaking good!) So, without further ado….

#70 Once Upon A Winter’s Eve (Spindle Cove #1.5) by Tessa Dare – summary from Goodreads:

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren’t beating down her door.  Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet’s feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He’s wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.   Only Violet understands him. And she knows he’s not what he seems.  She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable… Love.

The amazing thing about Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series are the heroines.  At first glance they are a mish-mosh of odd women.  They’re shy wallflowers and women interested in science; they’re the women that don’t fit into “normal” society.  Dare gives these women a safe place (Spindle Cove) to come into their own, heal from the pain of being outsiders from society, etc.  It’s her use of the unusual heroine and their creative backstories that make this series so special.  Dare’s superb writing style is also something to note here.  This novella runs at an extremely fast pace, but Violet’s story is so enchanting that you don’t mind.  I can’t tell you about the hero of the story, as it’ll ruin the surprise, but suffice it to say he’s proof that the cards life deals to us aren’t always what we expect.  But, with time and an open mind and heart, we can learn lessons from each instance and grow.

Final thoughts: Add this novella AND this series to your to-read list. (Book one is A Night to Surrender and book two is A Week To Be Wicked)

5 out of 5 Stars

Once Upon A Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare
Samhain Publishing, Ltd (2011)
eBook: 233 pages
ISBN: 9781609288822

#71 Forevermore (Jewel Trilogy #2.5) by Lauren Royal – summary from Goodreads:

England, 1667

Sensible Clarice Bradford is content in her widowhood. She has a pretty one-room cottage and a lovely little daughter, and the last thing she wants is another husband. Until one fairytale evening when she’s invited to a wedding at a castle…

Scottish gentleman Sir Cameron Leslie is smitten with the shy, English beauty at first sight. He’s fiercely drawn to the very strength and independence that make her unwilling to throw caution to the wind and bestow her heart on a younger man. Though passion flares between them, it will take everything Cameron can muster to reawaken Clarice’s long-forgotten dreams of true love…

Forevermore is part of Lauren Royal’s Jewel Trilogy.  The events take place after books one and two (Amethyst and Emerald) but before book three (Amber). Royal, as we’ve come to expect from her, gives us amazingly tortured characters that we can’t help but fall in love with.  

Clarice is a woman who was dealt difficult blows in her life.  She was married at the tender age of 15 to a man who was almost three times her age.  Not only was he much older than her, but you’re lead to believe he was physically and verbally abusive.  Years after his death Lord Cainewood (of Emerald) brings her a little girl who is need of a home.  Having always wished for children she takes the little girl in, vowing it will be the start to a happier life for herself.  It’s been a year since she adopted Mary and her life has never seemed happier.  Cameron, on the other hand, has led a sort of charmed life, living in Scotland and caring for his family’s ancestral lands.  Until seeing Clarice at his cousin’s wedding he realizes he’s never been in love (how sad!!).  Watching him try to win Clarice’s heart and squash her fears with his tenderness and kindness was joyful.  His scenes with little Mary were beautiful and made me love him even more!

Final Thoughts: If you haven’t yet added this series to your to-read pile you’re seriously missing out.

4 out of 5 Stars

Forevermore by Lauren Royal
Novelty Books (2012)
Paperback: 185 pages
ISBN: 2940014071192

#72 Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan by Mary Lydon Simonsen – summary from Goodreads:

While Jane Bennet is recuperating at Netherfield Park, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are frequently thrown into each other’s company. Despite initial resistance, the pair find that their first impressions are changing, especially after Lizzy overhears a conversation between Darcy and Charles Bingley using the language of the fan. Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan is a short story showing how two people come together through a series of comical miscues.

Those following the blog are well aware of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Simonsen’s writing.  She always comes up with new and creative ways to make us fall in love with Darcy and Elizabeth’s story.  Having read many Regency novels that employ the use of fans by ladies of respectable status, I’ve been curious about what all the motions of these fans meant.  It was really fascinating to have the “rules of the fan” interjected throughout the story as a plot device.

Once Darcy and Elizabeth become “friends”, they get on a conversation about tombstone markers.  Elizabeth tells him that Mr. Bennet enjoys walking through cemeteries looking for the most unique ones.  Reading the tombstone markers (that Simonsen later told me actually exist) were really funny, and they added a quirky humor to the story.

Final thoughts: Simonsen always leaves me wanting more, and that’s exactly how I felt upon completing The Language of the Fan.  Click here for more of my reviews of Simonsen’s books!

4 out of 5 Stars

Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Quail Creek Publishing (2011)
eBook: 25 pages
ISBN: 2940012938916

#73 Seven Day Loan (The Original Sinners #.5)  by Tiffany Reisz – summary from Goodreads:

A trained submissive, Eleanor will do whatever her master commands…even spend a week with a stranger. Daniel has been a recluse since his wife’s death, and Eleanor’s lover thinks spending time with her will be therapeutic–especially since Daniel is also a Dom.  Despite her defiant streak, Eleanor can’t resist giving in to Daniel’s erotic demands. But while she’ll let him have her body, she’s determined to keep a guard around her heart. Even if Daniel wants to make Eleanor his permanently….

Seven Day Loan is a prequel to Reisz’s The Siren , a prequel that I of course would read AFTER reading The Siren (oh well).  The biggest OMG” moment of The Siren is when you find out what Soren’s profession is.  His profession is discussed in Seven Day Loan hence why I suggest reading it after, making the reveal in The Siren more of a surprise.

ANYWAY – Seriously, you must read this. Daniel is heavenly.  The time he and Nora spend together is HOT and it definitely helps us get to know Nora just a bit more.  She is an enigma of a character, one that I’m anxious to keep learning about.

As expected Reisz’s writing style is exquisite and leaves the reader wanting more.  I can’t get enough of her stories and am greatly looking forward to the publication of book two in The Original Sinners series, The Angel, in September.  Reisz has a number of sequels to Seven Day Loan, as well as The Siren posted for FREE on her website.  Click here to read them!

Final thoughts: Read it. No, seriously. Read it.

5 out of 5 Stars

Seven Day Loan by Tiffany Reisz
Harlequin (2010)
eBook: 34 pages
ISBN: 9781426851599

#74 Bargain with the Devil by Enid Wilson – summary from Goodreads:

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy learns of the debacle involving Elizabeth Bennet’s sister several months after he was rejected by Elizabeth, and volunteers to help find her sister, of his own accord.  But what if Miss Elizabeth had requested Mr. Darcy’s aid in just a few days after the disastrous proposal at Hunsford, and he was still very angry with her refusal? What if he decided to be ungentlemanly, and demanded a very particular reward from her in exchange for his assistance?  This steamy, funny Pride and Prejudice what-if short story explores that scenario with wit, emotion and intriguing plot twists that take this perennial favorite to another direction.

Oh man. Where are Austen’s characters that I fell so in love with? Elizabeth? Darcy? Hello? Are you out there? I ask because they were definitely not present in this novella.  For example, there was the inclusion of Elizabeth dressing up as a man to follow Darcy, who teaches her how to “scratch” herself like a man. The entire situation was odd and awkward.  Not only that, but the storyline with Caroline Bingley and black magic was off the wall.

The back and forth between first person and third person narrative made for choppy and somewhat confusing reading.  The actual writing has potential, with the help of some strong editing.  I kept wanting to break out my red pen, but that wouldn’t really help on a nook.

Final thoughts: Skip it.  Try reading Wilson’s Fire and Cross instead.

1 out of 5 Stars

Bargain With The Devil by Enid Wilson
Lulu Press (2011)
eBook: 73 pages
ISBN: 9781447530657

So, there you have it.  The second installment in my “playing catch up” posts.  I hope you enjoy reading these blurbs as much as I enjoy writing them!  Reading and reviewing these novellas has definitely expanded the variety of my reviews this year.  They are fun ways to experience a quick story that is great for those who don’t have the time for a full novel.  I definitely recommend that you add some of these to your “to read” piles at home.

As always, happy reading!