Sunday, March 27, 2016

Early Review of Because of Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys #1) by Julia Quinn

Title: Because of Miss Bridgerton
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Bridgertons/Rokesbys
Format: Hardcover; 304 pages
Publisher: Avon (March 29, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0062465821
ISBN-13: 978-0062465825
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for reviewing purposes.

Billie Bridgerton was not raised as a proper Miss should be. She was well educated, raised as though she was the heir of her father's estate, and spoon-fed on the belief she could do anything. A regular tomboy, she ran around with the sons of their nearest neighbor who became her dearest friends. Billie never worried about her future until now. She always thought she'd marry one of the neighbor boys, but she never knew just how wrong or right she might be...

George Rokesby is the eldest of the three Rokesby boys and, therefore, heir to his father's estate and title. He's always taken his position seriously, and of the three brothers is considered to be the most serious. While his younger brothers and sister ran around the family estate, he studied and learned how to run it. While his brothers sought adventure, he sought knowledge. To say the man grew into a bore is most likely how Billie Bridgerton would see it, but a roof, an ungrateful cat, a sprained ankle, and a ladder are about to change everything.
The other day I was reading this book on a plane when the women next to me inquired as to what I was reading. I told her about about the book and the Bridgeton series and she asked me why I liked it so much. I've been reading Ms. Quinn's books for years and the Bridgerton family, which she created, is exactly the kind everyone would want to marry into. They're a close-knit bunch who love ferociously and are are fiercely loyal. If you're family, they would always have your back regardless of your innocence. The women of the family are they kind you'd want for your best friends while the men are the kind you'd want to marry. Some having just enough bad boy mixed in to make even a bad girl swoon. If I had to boil it down to one element it would be family. They are the epitome of what a family should be. In fact, at one point in the book Billie states during a conversation about women and war, "If someone I loved was in danger, I'm quite certain I could be moved to violence." I feel that statement kind of says it all.

This is the first of a new series called the Rokesbys. According to Julia Quinn's website, "Sybilla (Billie) Bridgerton is the older sister of Edmund Bridgerton. She is mentioned (although not by name) in  'Violet in Bloom,' which can be found in The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After." We’re going back a generation for 'Because of Miss Bridgerton'. " While the Bridgertons aren't the focus of this series, I'm sure we'll get some glimpses of Georgiana and her parents who will still resides next door to Billie and George.

This is the type of romance where a couple falls in love after knowing each other their entire lives. One is slightly older, but not by too much--just enough to make the age gap when they were younger seem huge. Slowly, however, they start to see each other in a new, romantic way. Billie is a bona fide tomboy and while she is a strong and confident woman on the home front, dealing with polite society is not her forte. When dealing with the ton, she feels like a fish out of water. Plus, an "incident" involving fire when she was presented at court led to her never having had a first season. While Billie can take care of herself in almost any situation, a verbal lashing by the ton, who don't easily forgive or forget, is not something she would know how to endure. She dreads making her debut.

George, on the other hand, is a much more serious than Billie. Raised as the heir, he didn't share in the adventures of Billie and his siblings. Until recently, he wouldn't have considered her a friend but rather someone he didn't really get along with. Truth be told, he's always been a bit envious of Billie and his siblings. They are all very close and he felt a bit left out growing up. Where as Billy could get away with just about anything--including acting like a boy--he felt restrained by his position. He, as you can imagine, has never had a problem fitting in with proper English society. An incident with a cat combined with Billie's confession about her fear of entering society will play a hand in bringing out his protective nature towards her. It allows him to see her not as the annoying spoiled girl of his youth, but as something more. Something much, much more.

This such a charming and delightful tale that I couldn't help but give it 5 out of 5 roses. I loved seeing these two slowly fall in love. It was a fun and sexy love story and after years of reading the Bridgerton series, it felt a bit like coming home. I simply adore Ms. Quinn's novels. They leave me feeling warm, toasty, and as though all is right with the world. If only real life played out like one of her books, life would be good. While this would be considered more of a prequel to the Bridgerton series, it had the feel of some of her earlier works--the ones before the Smythe-Smith Quartet spin-off, which I confess to also loving. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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. I highly recommend this one.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Early Review of The Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors #2) by Sabrina Jeffries

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Sinful Suitors (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books (March 22, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1476786070
ISBN-13: 978-1476786070
Notes: I was given and eARC loan for review purposes.

Lady Clarissa Lindsey is charming, witty, beautiful, and independently wealthy. She appears to have it all--including her own personal stalker...

Count Geraud Durand is the first secretary to the French ambassador, and since the ambassador's return to France, Durand is running the embassy as the charge d'affaires. The position gives the man a great deal of power and certain immunity. Upon meeting Clarissa, he's become obsessed with making her his wife--something both Clarissa and her family have made very clear is not an alliance they wish to pursue. Since her refusal of his proposal, however, he's become increasingly daring and crafty in his attempts to get her into a compromising position with the intent of forcing her hand. So when Clarissa's guardian needs to leave the country on another urgent family matter, he asks his good friend, Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakesborough, to be Clarissa's stand-in guardian and keep Clarissa safe from Durand's unsavory pursuits. It's a position that becomes increasingly complicated as Edwin finds himself falling for the beautiful young heiress.
One of the things I love about Sabrina Jeffries' books is watching her grow as an author. While even her first books are good, she's really come into her own, matured as a writer, and honed her craft over the years. With each new series, she seems to kick it up a notch in both heat and storylines to the point I feel I'm guaranteed a story that's more than worthy my time.

I personally adore stories where the hero and heroine seem like total opposites only to find when the two are forced to endure each others company that they have more in common then they ever could have imagined. This is such a story. Clarissa is the Regency version of a modern day party girl. She loves to socialize, dance, drink campaign, and have a good time. Yet underneath her party girl facade she's a very intelligent woman who is a tad bit lonely even though she doesn't realize it. Edwin, on the other hand, would be considered by all to be a stick in the mud. He's much too serious and really needs someone to shake him up and teach him how to enjoy life. We were first introduced to him in the fourth book of The Duke's Men series, If the Viscount Falls, and ever since I've been eagerly awaiting his story. Thankfully, Ms. Jeffries didn't disappoint.

The situation with Count Durand is rather twisted and scary. It makes one realize just how vulnerable women of the Regency time period were. Can you imagine being forced to marry your attacker because society dictates it or being shunned for being a victim of someone's unsavory advances that you never encouraged? Women and their rights have come a long way and while Ms. Jeffries may use such things to her advantage in her books, she never lets the story go completely dark. She tends to use these types of situations to add a touch of drama and suspense to her tales which I thoroughly enjoy.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed the story and the engaging characters. I loved how this book has a true hero, and while Clarissa is a strong, smart, and capable of taking care of herself, sometimes even the most self sufficient among us needs a little help when dealing with a seemingly unbalanced individual. Additionally, there were a lot of secrets and backstories that needed to be uncovered before all the pieces of what was going on fell into place which added a nice amount of suspense and a dash of intrigue. Plus, there was a major plot twist that I really liked. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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:
There were some really ingenious automatons in existence during the Regency time period. Ms. Jeffries incorporated some of them into this story by letting Edwin be a admirer, collector, and tinkerer of the art. Check out this article about seven early robots and automatons. I found it very interesting that such things existed all those many years ago:

Also, you may wish to take a look at the pinterest page Sabrina Jeffries has created filled with things associated with 'The Study of Seduction':

Videos of Automatons found on Youtube:

Pierre Jaquet-Droz's 'The Writer' Automaton:
(Video by BBC and lesterfontayne)

Order of the series:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Early review of Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop

Title: Marked In Flesh: A Novel of the Others
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Series: A Novel of the Others (Book 4)
Format: Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Roc (March 8, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0451474473
ISBN-13: 978-0451474476
Author's Website:
    Notes: Received an eARC loan from the publisher. Contains some gruesome and disturbing moments.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for 'Written in Red' and 'Murder of Crows'  and 'Visions in Silver' so if you haven't read the first books, you may wish to look at my review of 'Written in Red' instead:

The Others own the continent known as Thaisia and the humans who live there are, for all intents and purposes, their tolerated guests. When guests overstay their welcome or abuse the hospitality extended to them, heads literally roll as well as other bodily appendages. In this case if you bite the hand that feeds you they'll bite back, for the Others view humans as the other dark meat.

For the past year, tensions between humans and the terra indigene have been rising. A movement known as the Humans First and Last (HFL), under the leadership of Nicholas Scratch, has been getting more and more aggressive with its pursuit to provoke discord in Thaisia. Promising humans they can overtake the Others and claim what they feel should be rightfully theirs--namely the land, houses, etc. that they've been allowed to lease/build. What they don't realize is that the terra indigene that humans have so far encountered aren't the worst of their race. The Others that populate the Courtyards were strategically placed where they are to protect humans from the real Big Bad that roam the continent. Boundaries were not just established to keep the humans out, but to keep the truly terrifying of their species in.

The HFL truly has no idea of the Pandora's box their actions are about to unleash upon the world, but soon they and everyone else will...
This is a series that I HIGHLY recommend you read the previous books first. Each book builds upon the last, and you won't get the full effect of the series unless you read it from beginning to end in order. In my humble opinion, it is well worth your time.

If you haven't already guessed, I love this series. A portion of the story (and, yes, I'm trying not to reveal any spoilers) had an almost biblical feel to it. Not in a preachy, spiritual, or religious way, but rather in a destructive/vengeful large scale way--think Noah's Ark and Sodom & Gomorrah type of chaos. The Others show why they're not ones to be reckoned with, and why the ancestors of those presently living in Thiasia strictly observed the Others' rules.

Meg and Simon's relationship is complicated, but it's kind of fun to see Simon who is usually so confident and sure of himself feel totally out of his element. Simon, for those not up-to-date with the series, is terra indigene. His other form is a wolf. Meg is a Blood Prophet, aka cassandra sangue. When her blood is exposed to the elements, whether accidentally through wounds or scrapes or via controlled cuts, she predicts the future. Her predictions and those by others like her are extremely reliable. She came to the Lakeside Courtyard seeking escape from the people who used and abused her. To say she has trust issues is putting it mildly, but Meg is slowly warming up to Simon and takes a big step (for her) towards furthering their relationship in this one. I love how she seems to win the Others over with her innocent charm and by just being herself. One of my favorite part of the book is when she asks, "Was it...were they laughing at us?" 

I couldn't help but rate this one 5 out of 5 roses. I'm loving the series, but I'm not overly sure where the author, Ms. Bishop, will take this series next. I'm sure she has something up her sleeve because there is at least (and I stress at least) one more book forthcoming. I'm not sure when it is due out, so I may need to try one of her other works to fill the void like her Black Jewels series, her Ephemera series, or her Tir Alainn trilogy. I am so enjoying the characters and world Ms. Bishop has created in her Others series.  I HIGHLY recommend this series. Just be warned, there are some gruesome and disturbing moments in these books and they are not for the faint of heart.

Order of The Others series:
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