Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Release Day Review of A Private Duel with Agent Gunn (The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard, #3) by Jillian Stone

A year ago Agent Phineas Gunn, using the alias Hugh Curzon, played a crucial role in breaking up a ring of Spanish anarchists called Los Tigres Solitarios. To gain access to information about the group, he seduced Catriona de Dovia, the sister of Eduardo de Dovia who was an active member of the group. His role led to an explosion which resulted in the death of Catriona's brother and many other members of the Los Tigres. He'd hoped to explain what happened and continue their affair, but she never met him at the cafe when he returned to Barcelona. Now he's been asked by Scotland Yard to spy on Catriona and find out if she is working with the anarchists or is a cunning operative. All he needs to do is gain her trust once more. Piece of cake, right?

This was such a fun book. It's the third book in the series, but don't worry if you haven't read the previous two. It's pretty much self contained as each case is unique to the book along with the detective/agent who the book follows. Also, each book appears to have it's own voice/style which is unique/reflective to/of the characters. By that, I mean the last book had a much more dramatic flair to it whereas this one has more of a confident, flirty edge to it. I rather enjoyed it, and think it's that combined with the gadgets, such as a dirigible used in the story, that have me wanting to label this series as Steampunk. Perhaps we should coin a new term and call it SteamRom for it's combination of romance infused with gadgets that were not around at the time, but aren't totally out of the realm of possibility. As far as I can tell, however, the use of the gadgets hasn't altered the history of the world in any way.

The first thing you'll notice in this book is the sheer and utter strength of the magnetism between Catriona and Phineas (aka Finn). Catriona isn't about to make things easy on Finn. He seduced her, took her innocence, and played a part in her brother's demise. Not exactly something you want to brag about and tell your friends. Finn, on the other hand, feels bad about what happened, as well he should, but its obvious the petite ballerina fascinates him. If Scotland Yard had not called upon him to spy on Catriona, you can bet he would have found some other excuse to attempt to resurrect their relationship. Luckily for Finn, Catriona needs his help and asks him to help her recover jewels which were bequeathed to her in her uncle's will but have apparently been stolen and scattered about London.

Catriona is strong, smart, beautiful and has male admirers wherever she goes, much to Finn's chagrin. She is such a fun character and has a wicked sense of humor. When she finds out Finn's real given name she pronounces it Phin-e-ass with emphasis on the last syllable. Additionally, to keep Finn out of her hair at one point she leaves him naked, tied to a bed, and wanting. lol I loved this character.

Finn, likewise, is a lovable character. He's charming, dashing, and has more than his fair share of ladies falling for him. Typically he's cocky and and self confident with woman, but Catriona is different from any other woman he's ever met. She confounds, delights, and intrigues him all at once, and he can't seem to get enough of her. It's fun to see a man such as him open up and bare himself emotionally to a woman.

Besides the steamy romance, Finn finds out early on that Catriona is a cat burglar attempting to steal back the gems she believes were stolen from her uncle. As Scotland Yard wants Finn to investigate Catriona, they let him give her a the name of an approved contact to fence her wares. When she slips Finn's watchful eye she leads him on a merry chase to France where she follows up on a rumor that her brother may have survived the bombing a year ago and still be alive.

Why is the book called A Private Duel with Agent Gunn? Well, to tell the truth I'm not one hundred percent sure. It could elude to Cate dueling for and winning Finn's heart, or it could be the private battle that Finn waged with himself as he realized the extent of his feelings for Cate. Alternately, it could be the duel like nature of their relationship at the beginning of the book which appeared to be a battle of the wits. Of course I could be completely wrong, and it could be something entirely different.

Overall, I gave this one gets 5 out of 5 roses. Why? Well, I didn't want the story to end. I adored the characters, the action, the drama, the romance, and the humor. I also loved how Catriona and Finn tormented each other and well, all of it. It was humorous, sexy, and a lot of fun. A total and utter book seduction for me. I absolutely loved this one. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one got a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.
    Order of Series:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Early Review of King of the Damned (A League of Guardians Novel, #2) by Juliana Stone

Title: King of the Damned: A League of Guardians Novel 

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (November 27, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0062102311
ISBN-13: 978-0062102317
Author's Website: http://julianastone.com/
Notes: I read the eARC (eBook Advanced Copy Reader version provided by the publisher via Edelweiss) and will need to check my quotes against the finished book.

     She carefully lifted the heavy mane of hair off her neck and turned just so. She knew he'd see the mark clearly. It wasn't hard to miss..."Now do you understand?"...
     "Who placed the mark upon you?"
     "My ancestors fled Europe to avoid persecution and as fate would have it they ended up in Salem." She snorted. "Can you believe it? And just before the Salem witch trials broke out. I can't imagine what it would have been like to live through that...To save us Agatha did something desperate. She called forth a demon. Of course, not just any demon would do." She arched a brow. "Mallick...She made a deal with him, and we've been paying its price ever since. He marked our coven...He claimed Agatha that night, and has come for one of us every generation or so."

When Rowan James went back home to check on her grandmother, Cara, after receiving a voice mail that just didn't sound quite right, she never expected to find her murdered. But as she drove up to the Black Cauldron, the bed-and-breakfast her grandmother owned, she noticed it was eerily dark and silent. When she came across the blood covered floor of the kitchen she knew foul play was involved. She could only think of one reason her grandmother would have been killed, and that reason would be that Mallick had finally come looking for Rowan. Years ago her grandmother had blinded the eye of Mallick's mark on Rowan so he couldn't find her. Rowan was next in line of the James family witches to be claimed by the sadistic demon.

Rowan, however, is not the only one who cares about Cara's death. The League of Guardians, a secret organization that polices the dominions and keeps the balance between good and evil, is investigating her death to find out if it had anything to do with her affiliation with the League. Cara had been part of the League and the League looks out for their own, and if her death had something to do with the League, than the League will take it personally and look for vengeance.

When the League finds out about Mallick's claim on the James family witches, however, they realize they can't let Mallick have Rowan. Rowan is not an oridnary witch. She is much more powerful than any witch they've ever encountered. Such power can not be let to fall into the hands of evil. The scales of balance would be tipped. Therefore, the League has only two choices--kill Mallick or kill Rowan.

This is the second book of the A League of Guardians series. So far each book and novella of the series is pretty much self contained and can be read with no prior knowledge of the previous stories. 
In this book, three of the League's guardians are sent to investigate. The first one on the scene is Azaiel, a fallen angel. As Rowan had no prior knowledge of her grandmother's affiliation with the League of Guardians, she doesn't trust him and he needs to prove himself to her. Azaiel has his work cut out for him because he does not initially wish to inform her about the secret organization he works for and has to use a cover story.

Azaiel is an intimidating being who is well over six feet tall with thick dirty blond hair and is devastatingly handsome with power exuding from him. Upon their initial meeting, Rowan realizes he is not human and not someone she can easily, if at all, take down. Luckily, he claims to want to help her find her grandmother's killer. She can sense, however, he's not giving her a full disclosure of why he is truly investigating her grandmother's death, but knowing what she'll have to deal with she gladly accepts his help.

Rowan is a strong and powerful witch. Hidden from Mallick's view she's been attempting to live a normal life for the past few years. She knew it couldn't last, but she had hoped. Now she realizes she has to face Mallick dead on and if she's not the victor, she wants someone to make sure Mallick doesn't claim her. Death is a welcomed friend when faced with the fate Mallick would bestow upon her.

So in order for Rowan to have a shot of surviving and her family to have a chance of being rid of the curse they've endured since Agatha's initial deal with a demon, she needs to devise a way to kill Mallick. There are no guarantees, there are no second chances, and there are only two weeks to get everything put into place and organize her coven. For that is when Samhain will take place. The time when the veil between this dimension and the next will be at its weakest. A time when those who have passed will be able to lend their strength to those who are living. One chance to finally put an end to the curse that had plagued the James family line of witches for centuries.

To complicate matters more, Azaiel and Rowan begin to grow attached to one another. Seraphim aren't supposed to fall in love. They aren't supposed to have relationships. With the possibility that Azaiel may have to kill Rowan to keep her free from Mallick's clutches, things get tense. But if you were Rowan looking at the possibility of either death or a lifetime of imprisonment to a sadistic demon lord would you let a little a thing like that keep you from taking things to the next level? I think not. *smirk*

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I liked the forbidden relationship which developed between Azaeil and Rowan. I found it interesting that his original fall from grace was caused by a woman. I liked the drama created by how to deal with Mallick and the demons which invade Salem searching for Rowan. I enjoyed the secondary characters such as Priest, a former Templar Knight, and Nico, a shape shifting Jaguar, who both work for the League of Guardians and are called in to back up Azaeil. I also liked Rowan's cousin, Hannah who is attempting to curb her "potty mouth". It was quite funny. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. A very fun and entertaining read with plenty of action, drama, and romance.

Order of Series:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Marriage Mistake (Marriage to a Billionaire, #3) by Jennifer Probst

  • Title: The Marriage Mistake
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Format: Paperback,352 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Original edition (November 6, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1476717524
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476717524
Author's Website: http://jenniferprobst.com/

Carina Conte fell in love years ago, but unfortunately the man she fell in love with was a little older and her brother's best friend, Max. For years she didn't hide her admiration for him, and everyone knew she had a crush on him. She'd even once gotten so desperate that she cast a love spell in the hopes they'd end up together. Then one day when she was a little older and a little curvier, the two seemed to be getting along quite well at a party. When she left to get them some drinks, another woman moved in, and she caught the two kissing. Finally, she saw the light and was done trying to get his attention.

Now, she's all grown up and her brother's assigned Max with the task of showing her the ropes of the family business. Finally away from home and her mother's old fashioned views, such as saving yourself till marriage, she's decided to take a walk on the wild side and have her first fling. The only problem is every time she finds herself starting to get involved with anyone, Max steps in like he's her older brother to put an end to it all. Finally, during a business trip to Vegas, she gives him a a choice...

"I'm moving on, Max. I'm looking for a mature, sexual relationship that satisfies me. Nothing long term. I've just begun to spread my wings, and no male is going to clip them too soon. We're attracted to each other, respect each other, and have a common bond. Why not have a one-night stand? In Vegas. Where no one will ever have to know."  

It's either him or she'll go elsewhere to get what she wants. When Carina's mom unexpectedly makes a stop in Vegas on her way to New York, she walks in on the two the morning after.  There's only one thing on Carina's mother's mind...

"I'll call home and explain you wanted to elope. The opportunity Vegas affords is priceless. Why, people do wedding here all the time and very nice ones, don't you agree?"


The older woman smiled. "Now, no more nonsense. You are part of the family and always have been. No silly talk of ruining her. It is time you settle down with a woman who can be what you need, who is your match."

Be careful what you wish for...
Because you might just get it when you least expect it.

This was sooo not what she wanted.

This is the third book of the Marriage to a Billionaire series. While I haven't read the previous books,  I didn't feel lost at all. This story focuses on Max and Carina. Carina is Michael's younger sister. Michael was the male lead in the Marriage Trap, the second book of the series. Maggie Ryan is Michael's love interest in the second book and also the best friend to Alexa, from the Marriage Bargain, and sister to Nicholas Ryan of the same book. I kind of like the fact that all these friends end up becoming family. It sounds like a cozy group.

Max is a career bachelor with no aspirations of ever settling down. His father left him and his mom shortly after he was born, and he fears becoming his father. He has a tendency to only gravitate toward woman who aren't looking for serious relationships. When he senses someone is getting too close he has a tendency to break things off. He finds himself extremely attracted to Carina, but resists because he respects her and her family. He believes he's not the right man for Carina.

Carina has recently graduated from college and is finally coming into her own. She is a strong, confident young woman out to experience life. She's still not sure what she wants to do and/or be, but has decided to give her family business a shot. Being the youngest in the family, she's been shielded and coddled. She's not looking to settle down, and when she and Max are forced to marry, she is not a happy camper. To her everything is one big mistake.

To say this marriage starts off a little rocky would be an understatement. Max soon realizes if he wants things to work out between him and Carina, he's going to have to seduce his wife. He also realizes he needs to give her some space to grow and do some things on her own. Not an easy task for a man who is used to being in charge of his relationships. It leaves him a little vulnerable and you can't help but fall a little in love with Max yourself. 

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 our of 5 roses. I loved all the characters, the family dynamics and the situation Carina and Max find themselves in. A very cute, sexy, and fun read. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the series:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Too Dangerous to Desire (Lords of Midnight) by Cara Elliott

  • Title: Too Dangerous to Desire (Lords of Midnight)
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Format: Paperback, 384 pages
  • Publisher: Forever (November 20, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0446584584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446584586
Author's Website: http://www.caraelliott.com/

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl, who were each others best friend. They roamed the countryside in search of danger and adventure. Then one day, when she was 16 and he 17, he asked her to marry him. She said no. Not because she didn't love him, but because of duty to her family. Shortly thereafter, the boy disappeared never to be seen or heard from again. That is, until now...

Cameron Fanning, now Daggert, never expected to see his childhood sweetheart, Sophie Lawrence, in a place like the Wolf's Lair. She was a rector's daughter and the Wolf's Lair was a brothel. But neither his eyes nor his ears were deceiving him. She was there. As he watched and waited he saw her hand off a small package to a man, Lord Dudley. He heard her mention she was desperate. He should not have cared, but he found that he did. If she was in trouble, he'd get her out.

This is the third book of the Lords of Midnight series, but the first one I've read. I didn't feel lost as this story seemed fairly self contained. Both Connor and Gryffin, the two main character from the previous books, have minor roles in this one, but you don't need a lot of  background information about them other than they are Cam's best friends and are fiercely loyal to one another. In London, they are known as the Hellhounds, and Cam is the only one of the trio who has yet to be domesticated by a woman.

Cameron is a very interesting character. He doesn't have a high opinion of himself as he was raised a bastard and never allowed to forget just what that designation meant. While he did leave home over 10 years ago, he didn't leave for the reasons Sophie might have suspected. But leaving home at 17 without much more than the clothes on your back can lead a youth to do things they aren't particularly proud of and toughen their skin. He reveals, "I am a creature of Darkness." he murmured, feeling the cool fingers of night nymphs tickle his cheeks and thread through his hair. A man whose heart was now carved out of coal. Black oh-so black, and cold to the touch. "Connor and Gryff may be Lords of the Land, but I am a Wraith of Midnight." A specter whose place in the world was here, moving through the realm of the moon.

Sophie has spent her life doing the right thing even when it wasn't the easiest thing to do. She's loyal, straight laced, and desperate. She, or rather her family, is being blackmailed. With her sister's upcoming nuptials she's desperate to make sure nothing happens to prevent the marriage from taking place. A scandal could definitely do that. While the allegations against her father are false, she has no way of proving that because the blackmailer's have a piece of paper in their possession that certainly sounds incriminating, and those who could have vouched that her father's innocence are long since dead.

Sophie and Cam will need to learn to trust one another as they once did. Together they'll need to uncover the mystery of what Sophie's blackmailer ultimately wants. They'll need to figure out how to keep the family from scandal while putting an end to the blackmailer's scheme. Additionally, they'll need to reassess their feelings for each other and determine if they should rekindle their relationship or if some things are just too dangerous to desire...

Overall, this one get 4 out of 5 roses. I loved the chemistry between Cam and Sophie and the way they worked together. I enjoyed the mystery of why someone would go to all the trouble of trying to exploit a rector's daughter and potentially scandalize the family. I liked the fact these two truly had something special all those years ago and were able to resurrect it. Most significantly, this book left me with a good feeling and a smile on my face. I will definitely need to read the previous two books of the series.   On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one got a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of series:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Two Sinful Secrets (The Scandalous St. Claires) by Laurel McKee

Title: Two Sinful Secrets (The Scandalous St. Claires)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Paperback, 384 pages 
Publisher: Forever (November 20, 2012)
ISBN-10: 145550548X
ISBN-13: 978-1455505487
Author's Website: http://ammandamccabe.com/mckee/

"Oh, my brothers can be such fools sometimes!...I blame the steady of Shakespeare we've been fed ever since the nursery...All those feuds and revenge. But they never remember how those things always turn out--with everyone dead."

Lady Sophia Huntington had it all--brains, looks, wealth, position, proper breeding, and a wild side. She frequently snuck out of her house at night to the gambling dens of London. When she found a man with an equally wild streak, she thought she'd met her perfect match and took a gamble on what she thought was love and lost just about everything. Her family deserted her, she was disinherited, and her husband turned out to love a good drink more than her, and that is what ultimately lead to his demise. Only months after marrying the man, Sophia found herself a widow. Now, after finding herself low on funds and far from home, she'll rely on those skills she honed in those unauthorized late night outings to the gaming tables, but this time the stakes are high.

Dominic St. Clair is every girl's fantasy--smart, charming, and devilishly handsome. He's an owner of a casino and comes from a long line of actors who own a theater company. He and Sophia crossed paths one late night years ago and had both felt an instant attraction. She knew exactly who he was but he hadn't a clue as to who she was, but neither has ever forgotten the other nor that night. Let's just say the experience was unforgettable. *smirk* Now, years later, their paths cross once again and the question is will she once again gamble on love and, if so, will she have better luck? Especially since Dominic's family has despised the Huntingtons for over a hundred years?

This was a very fun read. Ms. Mckee starts off this one with Dominic and Sophia's first meeting. I believe author did this to not only to show a connection between the two, but perhaps emphasize that some things in life are meant to be and timing is important. I thought that was a nice touch.

I loved the characters. Sophia is a smart, resourceful, and strong young woman. She'll make the most of a bad situation and let the cards fall where they may. Despite being a bit unlucky in love with her last marriage, she hasn't given up on men or love entirely. When a female acquaintance offers her a position at her soon to be open casino that isn't a casino, she jumps at the chance but she's still unsure whether to go crawling back to her family and beg their forgiveness or try to make the most of her new found freedom.

When Dominic first comes to the Palais Royale, he only expected to find some fun and to perhaps pick up a trick or two for his Casino, the Devil's Fancy, back in London. He never expected to see the woman who years ago said "No" to his advances and left him in agony after kneeing him in the groin. When he learns her true identity, he is torn between his attraction for her and his wish to exact revenge, not for the physical pain she wrought years earlier, but revenge for what her family did to his over a hundred years ago.

Overall this one gets a 4 out of 5 roses. I loved the drama created and not just from the revenge angle. I loved how no matter how they tried, Dominic and Sophia kept gravitating back toward one another. I enjoyed watching Dominic take a good look at  himself and figure out what he really wanted, and in the process managed to grow into the man Sophia needed him to be. A delightfully delicious read that kept me captive till I'd finished the book. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one got a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the series:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's finally here. The Mortal Instruments (TMI) Movie Trailer

One of my favorite series is being made into a movie. Don’t miss The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, soon to be a major motion picture in theaters August 2013.
Haven't read The Mortal Instruments series yet? Well, you are so gonna want to! :)


City of Bones

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

City of Ashes

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

City of Glass

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?

City of Fallen Angels

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Timesbestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And - most importantly of all - she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine's Circle, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side - along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. At the same time he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls - neither of whom knows about the other one.

When Jace begins to pull away from Clary without explaining why, she is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: She herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

City of Lost Souls

What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Meet Sophie Barnes - Author Interview

Sophie Barnes
Visit her website at www.sophiebarnes.com
Follow her on Twitter at  @BarnesSophie

Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.

When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.
The Interview
Lisa: Thank you Sophie for joining us today and answering some of our questions.

Sophie: Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for inviting me to join you here today, it’s great to be here =)

Lisa:  I went to your website and noticed it said you married your husband three different times, in three different counties, in three different dresses. That begs the question what's the story behind that? I'm guessing you didn't divorce and remarry but rather planned this out purposefully? I noticed you've lived in quite a few different places so I'm curious if you did it so all your family members could see you exchange vows or are you perhaps superstitious and decided good things come in threes? Also, I'm curious as to how you got your husband to agree to them all?

Sophie: LOL – No, we did not divorce and remarry =) Actually, we got married for the first time ten years ago this year at our local city hall. My in-laws were the only other people present because they lived close by, so two years later we decided to have the big bash. You’re correct in your assumption, Lisa – we did have two more weddings because it was easier for the two of us to travel to our respective relatives than to bring all of our relatives to us. My husband didn’t mind at all – he had his own ideas on how he wanted the service and celebration so it worked out beautifully as we each organized our own event. For those of you who’d like to learn more, I wrote a longer post about it which you can find here: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2060356-how-i-came-to-marry-my-husband-three-different-times-in-three-different

Lisa: Your heroines all tend to be strong women and in the case of The Summersby's series you have three very independent woman. Alexandra is a talented swordsman, Mary is a surgeon, and then there is Lucinda who is bent on bringing her parent's murderer to justice. Are strong heroines your favorite type of heroine to write? What inspired the series and each of the books?

Sophie: Yes, I suppose I do have a fondness for strong female characters, though in spite of their independent streaks, they all discover that it can be really nice to have a man by their side =) After writing about Emily Rutherford, I wanted to tackle something more adventurous and took , inspiration from The Three Musketeers and The Scarlet Pimpernel for Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure. After reading Noah Gordon’s The Physician, I immediately conjured up Mary, and as I began researching 19th century medical practices and discovered that many treatments were in use long before the people they’re attributed to came up with them, I was intrigued. The plot fell into place around this. As for Lady Lucinda, I began with the idea of William getting trapped into marriage, which led to the question “why?” Lucinda’s character and her reason for seeking out William began to take shape.

You can read more about how I developed the plot for Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure here: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2506792-developing-the-plot-for-lady-alexandra-s-excellent-adventure

And if you’d like to know more about women who dueled, you can see my post on that topic here: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2492337-women-who-dueled

Lisa:  Are you a history buff? I noticed your blog has a whole section devoted exclusively to research. I found it quite interesting. I am curious, however as to which came first, did the research inspire the story or the spark of an idea inspire you to do some research?

Sophie: When I was in school, history was probably my least favorite subject. What I enjoy is discovering unusual bits of information, like William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine which has a whole chapter dedicated to hygiene and how important it is to wash ones hands so as not to convey infection to others. The fascinating part, in my opinion, is that this was written in 1769, almost 100 years before the man to whom the importance of hand-washing is attributed (a Hungarian physician named Ignaz Semmelweiz who demonstrated that the contagion of puerperal fever could be drastically reduced by routine hand-washing). Semmelweiz made this discovery in 1847, and even then he failed to convince the rest of the medical community of the importance of his findings. But Buchan clearly writes: “were every person, for example, after visiting the sick, handling a dead body, or touching anything that might convey infection, to wash before he went into company, or sat down to meat, he would run less hazard either of catching the infection himself, or of communicating it to others.”

I would say that I usually start with an idea which leads to research, which then in turn leads to more ideas on which to build the plot.

Lisa: Besides a strong chemistry between the hero and heroine, what do you feel is the next most important ingredient to making a good romance novel?

Sophie: Obstacles! Throw a villain or an issue preventing the hero and heroine from being together in their path, and drama and conflict are created. Seeing how the hero and heroine deal with such issues is what keeps the pages turning for me =)

Lisa: You've lived in several different countries and visited quite a few more. Do you feel this has given you an advantage in your writing? In at least two of your books you've had the main characters travel to other countries.

Sophie: It certainly increases my plot options since I know what these places are like. Much of Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure is set in France – I think writing about that would have been more difficult if I hadn’t spent two years in Paris.

Lisa:  If you could travel back in time to any time period and witness any event and/or meet any person from the past, what would you pick? Additionally, if you could bring back some memento from that time period what would you choose?

Sophie: Regency England! What better way to conduct research than to visit the period I’m writing about? And if I could bring back a dance card with the Duke of Wellington’s name on it, that would be gold =D

Lisa: What is your all time favorite love story? 

Sophie: There are several, so it’s difficult for me to pick just one, but I have to say that I love Somewhere in Time.

Lisa: What do you believe is the most romantic thing one person can do for another?

Sophie:  Stay with them in the face of adversity. It can be easy to claim you love someone as long as your life is easy, but when things get hard, that’s when your love for each other is really put to the test.

Lisa:  Originally you started writing for recreation as a hobby. What happened to make you decide to make a career of it? Did someone encourage you to try to get published? Is there a story there?

Sophie: Writing a novel has always been one of those ‘things to do before I die’ items. So when I was staying at home taking care of the kids when they were smaller and I had a bit of time to myself as they napped, I decided to put that time to good use and make an attempt at that novel. Reading Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton gave me that extra push – I love her sense of humor. And then, once I was done, I decided to submit it. My husband encouraged me every step of the way which helped tremendously. However, I never would have done it without determination – once I put my mind to something I stick with it =)

If you’d like to know how I became interested in Regency romance, you can find out here: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2055659-how-i-became-interested-in-regency-romance

Lisa:  What is your favorite thing about being an author? When did it first hit you that you had joined the ranks of published authors? Was it seeing that initial book in print or seeing the book being
displayed on a book store bookshelf, or something else entirely?

Sophie: My favorite thing about being an author is probably the joy of being able to share my stories with others as well as the positive reinforcement that being published offers. As for when it first hit me that I’m a published author, I still find myself having moments of disbelief…LOL…But actually, the moment my editor sent me an advanced paperback copy of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back was definitely incredible – I believe I squealed as I jumped up and down with excitement =)

Lisa: Do you have anything else in the works and, if so, can you tell us a little about it?

Sophie: I do, but I can’t share much about it yet (it’s classified…LOL). What I can say is that it’s another trilogy and that I’ve almost finished the first book which is due in my editor’s inbox on December first, so I’m keeping myself busy. Hopefully I can find a few moments to relax in December – I love Christmas!

Lisa: Thanks again so much for joining us today. 

Sophie: Thank you so much for stopping by today. I’ll be popping in throughout the day to chat with you and to answer any questions you might have.

The Summersby Series

Lady Alexandra's Excellent Adventure

Lady Alexandra Summersby is not your average society miss. Not only is she more likely to climb a tree than she is to wear a dress, but she has also sworn off marriage. Alex loves taking chances, which is how she finds herself embroiled in a secret mission as she races across the country with the Earl of Trenton. But Alexandra is about to discover that the real danger lies not in duels, but in her completely unexpected reaction to Lord Trenton's company.

Michael Ashford, Earl of Trenton, is a man of duty. Honorable, charming, and a hit with the ladies, he's never had trouble staying focused—until now. Lady Alexandra is like no other woman he's ever met, and suddenly the prospect of marriage seems far more appealing. Now, to convince Alexandra that a life together could be an adventure like no other

There’s Something About Lady Mary

Mary Croyden lives a simple life . . . and she likes it. But when she inherits a title and a large sum of money, everything changes. Forced to navigate high society, Mary finds herself relying on the help of one man—Ryan Summersby. Determined not to lose her sense of self, she realizes that Ryan is the only person she can trust. But Mary's hobbies are not exactly proper, and Ryan is starting to discover that this simple miss is not at all what he expected . . . but just might be exactly what he needs.

The Secret Life of Lady Lucinda

Lucy Blackwell is desperate, reckless, and maybe a little bit crazy. That's the only possible explanation for tricking a man she doesn't know into a dance, a kiss, and an engagement—all in the middle of the biggest ball of the year! But Lord William Summersby is the final piece of her grand plan, and she'll do what it takes to make this marriage of convenience work—as long as it's convenient for her. She just never counted on falling in love . . .

Early Review of The Secret Life of Lady Lucinda: A Summersby Tale (Book 3) by Sophie Barnes

  • Title: The Secret Life of Lady Lucinda: A Summersby Tale
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Format: eBook
  • File Size: 602 KB
  • Publisher: Avon Impulse (November 20, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Author's Website: http://www.sophiebarnes.com/ 

"Ladies and gentlemen," she began, "as surprising as this may be in light of the fact that most of you haven't yet to make my acquaintance, Lord Summersby has just now asked me to be his wife, and I have accepted." What could cause a Lady to throw caution to the wind and in the midst of the ton throw her arms around a man she'd just met and kiss him, thereby, forcing him to marry her or face scandal? In a nutshell, desperation.

"I'll never forget the fear in Mama's eyes the last time I saw her. I didn't understand it to begin with. I was so confused. Before I knew what was going on, we were running through our house in a desperate attempt to escape the men chasing us." She took a deep breath to force away the painful tightening of her throat." I was the only one who got away. My parents were both killed--my mother stabbed in the chest before my very eyes."

Six years ago, at the age of 12, Lucy Blackwell had lost both her parents to some unknown assailant wearing a mask. Over the years her dreams had been haunted by scenes from that night. A night that changed her life forever. She'd waited six long years to come out of hiding and during that time she had done her research and decided only one man could help her find out the who and what of it all and that man was William Summersby. Regarded as the best foreign agent in England, he was the man she needed to take her to Constantinople and discover what had happen all those years ago and bring her parents' murderer to justice. To keep things respectable, however, she had determined they'd need to be husband and wife. After all, a proper lady does have a reputation to uphold.

I truly loved the beginning of this story. Lucy is a determined young woman, and I loved how when it sounds like William won't help her, she forces his hand. While Lucy thinks she's thought everything through and things seems to be going her way, she forgot one very important thing. Married men expect certain things from their wives. As you can imagine, things start out very rocky for this couple.

Another hurdle the couple has to overcome is that Lucinda hasn't told William the whole story of her family's plight. She hasn't even trusted him with her real name which could cause additional problems because she didn't use her real name when they married. Yet the biggest issue standing in their way is the fact that William isn't happy about being manipulated into the marriage especially since he had planned to marry someone else. So while William is attracted to Lucy, his pride and anger toward her prevent him from initially warming to her. As Lucy finally confides in William, William realizes he can do one of two things. He can either accept Lucy and attempt to make the most of their marriage or not accept her and have a horrible marriage.

Things start to get interesting when the killer makes his presence known during a house party the two throw before they depart on their honeymoon. When the realization dawns on them that the killer is probably someone they know and he still has plans, although they aren't sure exactly what those are, for Lucinda they start to work together in an effort to uncover the murderer. That is when the two truly begin to bond.

Overall, I gave this story 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. I liked the drama and mystery surrounding the deaths of Lucy's parents. I liked how eventually Lucy and William managed to grow closer after such a bleak beginning. The last several chapters held a lot of surprises and revelations which I didn't see coming including a trip to Constantinople which ended up coming about for reasons other than what Lucy and William had originally planned. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Series:

There's Something About Lady Mary (Summersby #2) by Sophie Barnes

  • Title: There's Something About Lady Mary: A Summersby Tale
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Format: Paperback, 400 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Impulse (December 4, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062225383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062225382
  • Author's Website: http://www.sophiebarnes.com/

"A number of years ago," Percy began, "I made a promise to an old fiend that if anything were to happen to him, I'd keep a watchful eye on his daughter. Apparently, this fiend of mine was under the impression that his daughter would be in some sort of terrible danger if anything did happen..."

Ryan Summersby was once an agent for the Foreign Office. When Sir Percy, a family friend, asks him to watch over his friend's daughter, Mary, as a personal favor, he does so begrudgingly. On his first night of watching over her residence he is approached by a man dressed entirely in black with his face concealed behind a hood and a scarf who warns him,"If she starts looking for answers to questions that do not concern her or investigating matters that ought to be left untouched, then there are those who will seek to silence her."

Mary Croyden thought she knew everything there was to know about her father. Upon his death, however, she got some shocking news. Her father was not a commoner as she'd been led to believe. He was a Marquess and she, as his only heir, had just become a Marchioness. Now usually a title would be handed down to the next male member in the family, her father however, had gotten special permission to let the tittle be inherited by Mary. But that was not the only surprise. It turns out she and her father were quite wealthy, and she not only inherited his title but his lands as well. She now was in possession of two estates she'd never set foot upon. But with the remarkable good news came also some bad. Unfortunately that was not the only secret her father had kept from her. Something her father had been working on or researching had caused her life to be put in jeopardy and in this case, what she doesn't know could potentially get her killed.

This was such a fun read. One of the things I love about Ms. Barnes' Summersby series is that she has these incredible women living at a time when woman were not allowed as much freedom as their male counterparts and had very few rights. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? You know there had to be some strong and intelligent women at the time this book is set or women's rights never would have come to pass. I loved the fact that Mary was a surgeon who had been trained by her father. In an era when female surgeons were unheard, it would be frightening to consider marrying because who is to say your husband would approve? That is something she has to consider when she starts to realize she is feeling something for Ryan. 

Ryan is an interesting character and I loved the way Ms. Barnes portrayed him. He has a sister, Alexandra, who is by no means conventional and he admires her for it. In Lady Alexandra' Excellent Adventures he even states, "To put it plainly," Ryan continued. "They (the ladies of the ton) are all exceedingly dull. Not a single adventurous spirit like Alex, not one dares to speak her mind; and whenever one of them laughs, her heart is not in it--it's rather a trained sort of sound that they must have practiced at for hours in order to perfect. I for one have scoured the ballrooms of Mayfair in search of a lady who does not fit the description I have just given you. After all, where is the fun in having the same wife as everyone else? Is it not better to find a woman who is unique? Who stands out?" Ryan asked. "I do believe that I would find myself lucky to meet a woman with as much spirit as my sister. After all, life might become a touch unbearable with a dull wife to see to every day for the remainder of my days." Yet in, There's Something About Lady Mary, he finds himself telling Mary she needs to stop what she's doing. She needs to assume a more traditional role and doesn't realize that if she were to do as he wished, he'd be squashing the very traits he admires in her. So it was fun watching him come to the realization that being a surgeon was part of who Mary was, and what she needed to be.

I loved Mary. She knows what she wants and isn't going to accept 'No' from any man. She knows she's a good surgeon and loves what she does. She's smart, she's strong, and she's got the statistics to back her claims. While Ryan does have a valid point when he says she shouldn't do surgeries without being licensed. I can see how someone with her skills would have a hard time saying no to a person in need. I liked how, in the end, the two came to a mutual agreement on how to solve such a dilemma

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. i truly enjoyed reading this book. I like it when I read a historical romance and come away learning a bit about history I didn't previously know. It's like an added bonus. I liked the mystery of what Mary's father had been working on that put her own life in jeopardy. I liked how Ryan and Mary's relationship grows from a strong physical attraction into a deeper relationship which includes a mutual respect for one another. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Notes to keep you in the know:
According to http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/themes/practisingmedicine/women.aspx "Many women attempted to become doctors in the 1800s - Margaret Bulkley even masqueraded as a male doctor for 46 years. At the end of the century women gained the right to study for the same qualifications as men. These first female doctors, such as Elizabeth Blackwell (in the USA) or Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (in the UK), had to battle considerable resistance. The two women were instrumental in establishing specialist clinics for women and children, and women’s training hospitals."

You can also learn more about Margaret Buckley, aka James Miranda Stuart Barry, at wikipedia via this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Barry_(surgeon)

Order of the Series:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mystic City (Mystic City #1) by Theo Lawrence

  • Title: Mystic City (Mystic City Trilogy, #1)
  • Classification: Young Adult (Ages 12 and up)
  • Genre: Dystopia/Fantasy
  • Format: Hardcover, 417 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 9, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 038574160X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385741606
  • Author's Website: http://www.theolawrencebooks.com/
  • Notes: I borrowed this one from my local library. 
  • Sexual Content: Nothing more than kissing.

'I was told that my parents found me unconscious on my bedroom floor, vibrating as if my body were filled with a thousand bees. I can't imagine how I even got hold of the pills. None of my friends use. But I must have gotten them somehow, and leave it to me to screw things up. It's so embarrassing. Rich people in the Aeries do Stic all the time. I can't believe I was so stupid--and so unlucky--that the first time I tried it I ruined everything.

I remember almost everything else, like what I ate for lunch one day last month (oysters, flown in by my dad from the West Coast) and how it affected me the next morning (two hours hugging the toilet and tossing them all up). So why can't I recall anything about Thomas?'...

'Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to fall in love. The love you see on TV or read about in books, where you find your missing half--the person you were meant to be with forever--and suddenly you're complete. That's the sort of love my parents say I share with Thomas. Why, then, when he touches me, does it merely feel like a touch? 

I thought true love would sear me.'

Aria Rose lives in a city divided between normal human beings and mystics. The humans live in the Aeries, the upper portion of the city, while the mystics live within the Depths, the lower levels. The Depths are considered "too terrible and too dangerous" for those who are not magically inclined to live. Yet once the mystics had been "lauded for helping to enhance and strengthen" the city and the two lived peacefully. Nearly two decades ago, however, a mystic-organized explosion changed everything and put fear in the hearts of those with no magical abilities and ever since the mystics have been treated as second class citizens and drained of their power twice a year to prevent a similar massacre from happening again.

Now amidst the politically charged climate of upcoming elections Aria and her fiance, Thomas, are about to unite the two most politically powerful families in the city, the Roses and the Foster. Two families who for decades considered the other to be their greatest rival and enemy. Aria's instincts tell her something isn't right, but everything else says differently. She reminds herself:

'I fought for true love, and won.
Now I just have to remember it.' 

Should she trust her instincts or her family?

This was such a great book. I truly enjoyed it. Theo Lawrence builds a world I can clearly picture in my mind. The world is suffering from the affects of a global warming. The snow and ice around the world is slowly melting causing sea levels to rise. The island of Manhattan is slowly sinking and scientists say it's only a matter of time before the city is completely submerged. The city now looks a bit like the City of Venice did before the ocean finally claimed it as it's own.   

At the beginning of the book Aria has apparently survived a drug overdose that left her with a small but major chunk of her memory gone. She starts out the book trying to recall her lost memories and trying to figure out what would cause her to do drugs. She just can't come up with any circumstances, even if she had been miserable, where she would have permitted herself to indulge in them. But her memory loss isn't the only thing she finds confusing. She can't figure out why her parent appear to be pushing for the wedding to take place sooner rather than later and why they aren't giving her more time to regain her memories before  taking the marital plunge. There are so many things she's forgotten like how she and Thomas met, their first  kiss, and his proposal. He's a stranger to her, and she wishes she could have some time alone with him, but that is not permitted. Plus, there is a mysterious boy named Hunter, a mystic, who keeps popping up at just the right time and rescuing her. Slowly, as the story progresses, Aria pieces together some of what happened during those lost days and eventually regains all her memories.

Some of my favorite lines/quotes:
- "You're like a snail. If we were in France, they'd cook you up."

- "Did you know that in the War of the Roses, giving someone a white rose was a sign of betrayal, like a warning that soon after, that person would be killed? Are you trying to tell me something?"

- 'And that's what life is for: to love, to create, to blend, to harmonize. And to die.'

I loved the mystery of what happened to Aria. I loved learning about the politically charged environment she lives in. I liked the idea of mystics, and how their power is drained and used as a power source. I additionally loved how, after all is said and done, Aria finds her purpose in life, and I can't wait to see where this series will go in the next book. Her last lines in the book, "My father was right about one thing. Manhattan is my city." make me believe we're only starting to see the real Aria and she's about to come into her own.

Overall, this one gets 5 out of 5 roses. A great story that is beautifully written which embraces the Romeo and Juliet theme in a way that makes it the author's own. There is plenty of action, drama, betrayal, and twists with a dash of romance all set in a world struggling to survive. A great first book by author Theo Lawrence. Sounds like the beginning of a promising career and series. I look forward to seeing what his talented author comes up with in the years to come. He's definitely going on my list of authors to watch.

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