Review: Demon’s Bride

Demon's Bride
Demon’s Bride by Zoe Archer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The 2nd book in Ms. Archer’s series picks up a few months after the end of the first book as we peak in on Leo’s wedding to Anne, a poor baron’s daughter on the verge of becoming a spinster. Like in the first book, the story starts out by isolating the heroine. Anne, who finds Leo overwhelming and confusing, is left in Leo’s dreary and lonesome townhouse, immediately after the wedding, as he pursues his fortune and revenge on The Exchange (recall that Leo’s gift was the ability to foresee future financial disasters).

As Leo tries to get to know his wife, he, like Whit in the previous book, finds himself pulled away from his gift and the work the Devil wants him to do. But it is not just Leo’s drive to for more money that drives him. It is also his desire to be accepted into the gentry that pushes him further into the Devil’s grasp. Anne, desperate to please the man she’s falling in love with, because an unknowing pawn in his game. But as Anne finds her own inner strength to overcome her own beliefs that she never quite fit in (as she stated she and Leo had something in common, they both stood on the outside and watched people dance) and find her own self confidence her doubts about Leo grow, driving them apart.

Of course the Devil, unwilling to lose another Hellraiser, grants Leo an additional gift, which is how Leo discovers Anne is learning the truth about him and that he is slowly losing her. Of course even the Devil can’t stop himself from messing up his own well laid plans. It is the Devil’s own desire to continue controlling the hellraisers at any cost that allows the man to overcome their own demons and find the things that truly matter to him.

Like the first book, the ending is resolved quickly and the main plot stays focused on Leo and Anne finding their own internal strength. You will see old friends again in this book and discover that there is more than one way for the band to reclaim their souls plus a few other twists at the end setting up for the 3rd book (which I believe will be Bram’s and I cannot WAIT to see how his gift is dealt with and the type of woman he is matched to)

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Review: Devil’s Kiss

Devil's Kiss
Devil’s Kiss by Zoe Archer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great series from Zoe Archer. The concept to the story is quite simple, 5 friends, as close as brothers, unwittingly release the devil from his imprisonment. The grateful Devil gives each man his heart desires at the cost of each man’s soul.

For Whit, his gift was the ability to control odds (chance). Whit’s character is a lost risk taker, always upping the bet in order to feel the rush. He has ignored everything else in his life, his estates, his sister, and most other responsibilities.

Zora is a young gypsy girl who is not afraid to speak her mind. She too is a wandering soul searching for excitement.

Like most of Archer’s books, part of what drives the story are the character flaws of the hero/heroine, and her knack at isolating them. In this story, Whit save’s Zora from the Devil by claiming her himself (as she is also part of his heart’s desire) but it comes at a high cost for Zora loses everything she holds dear, freedom, her family, her ability to be seen by anyone but Whit. Whit is blinded by everything but the rush of power he feels from his gift and cannot see through that to understand what he has done to Zora, even as he falls in love with her. Through the use of his gift, Archer again isolates the Whit. Zora, on the other hand, uses the isolation to become stronger herself and overcome her fears and biases – about gorgies, about herself, and to focus on what is truly important in life – love.

It is not until Zora escapes her imprisonment that Whit understands what he faces and does one of the hardest things for him, he turns his back both on his gift and his friends. They both discover that they can draw strength from each other to overcome even themselves.

In the end, Whit uses the gifts he naturally has, his intelligence, gambling skill, love and trust of Zora, to beat his own demon and take back his soul (and all the other souls his own personal demon had collected). Some may find this part seemed to develop quickly and way to easy, but main point of the story is first battling and defeating the devil within you. After that, defeating that demon in real life is supposed to be easy (I adore the symbolism used)

For those that like the Blades of the Rose series, Zoe Archer has created another series that may surpass the previous one in it’s detail and character pairings.

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Review: In Total Surrender

In Total Surrender
In Total Surrender by Anne Mallory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say, I loved this series with the Merrick brothers. I was excited to read this book because the previous book, while introducing Andreas, only gave us a small glimpse at him.

For this novel, Andreas is pushing forward his dangerous game to ruin Lord Garrett and his sons. Part of his plot involves the Pace Carriage Company. He is waiting for Lord Garrett to make his move to take over the company and then plans to call in all the debts of the company Andreas had bought up. What he didn’t expect was Phoebe Pace arriving at his office door asking for his help.

Phoebe is all light and smiles while Andreas is dark and scowling, but the two compliment each other well. She understands what is driving him, he recognizes and promotes her intelligence and wit.

Of course this book, like the previous, has lots of action, attempted assassination, and more interaction with the jumbled mess of street rats the Merrick’s collected. In the end Andreas finds that there is much more to life than revenge and one remaining twist to the story that is not given away.

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Review: A Laird for All Time

A Laird for All Time
A Laird for All Time by Angeline Fortin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up back in October as an ebook deal on Amazon. I am always willing to drop a buck or two for an interesting story from an author I haven’t heard of. I very much enjoyed this book.

The basics, Dr. Emmy MacKenzie travels to Scotland prior to taking her first job after finishing her residency. Upon her arrival to view a castle in Mull, she wishes to see what it would have looked like when it was rebuilt around the turn of the century, thinking those times were simpler. Her wish comes true as she is whisked back in time and accused of being the Laird, Conner MacLean, long lost wife Heather.

Emmy sets out to convince Conner that she is not Heather and to help him move past the hurt and anger he held at his wife’s leaving him. In addition, she helps him to heal the wounds his 10 years of anger has caused with the rest of his family.

This is one of the few time travel stories where part of the story involves the curiosity by some of the main characters regarding the future.

There is a twist in this story that was unexpected and Emmy has to come to accept what she truly wants, without regret, to reach her HEA.

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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Sin

A Midsummer Night's Sin
A Midsummer Night’s Sin by Kasey Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found Kasey Michaels through her Daughtry family series and was excited to see a new historical series from her. This is the second in the Blackthorn series regarding 3 brothers, the bastard sons of the Marquess of Blackthorn. The first book, The Taming of a Rake, reveals that the Marquess and his Mistress were very much in love, but she refused to marry him, instead wishing to pursue life as an actress. Instead, the Marquess married her sister, who is developmentally disabled, in order to protect his love’s sister.

This book picks up a few weeks after the ending of the previous book with Puck attempting to “blackmail” the men of the ton seen performing dirty crown business with his brother, for introductions into society. As such, the men take him to a masquerade ball in which he spies Regina Hatchard, daughter of a cit and an earl’s daughter.

Regina and her cousin Miranda attend the ball for a lark, both trying to escape the problems of their families. Miranda’s father is a gambler and the family’s funds come from Regina’s father. Regina’s father sees her only as merchandise to sell for a title and her mother has turned to alcohol in order to bear her father.

During the ball, Miranda is kidnapped and Puck agrees to help Regina in her search. Similar to the previous book, Regina is a strong female character who is determined to remain involved and not sit at home waiting.

Also similar to the first book, Puck has to arrange a way to separate Regina from her father in order to continue their investigations, find Miranda, and punish those guilty.

The book flows smoothly and you will enjoy the relationship between Puck and Regina. Puck is light hearted and refreshing with a good mixture of seriousness and humor. While Regina was able to cast aside her doubts about herself and her family and blossom under Puck’s attention. I also enjoyed getting better introduced to Jack, whom we will hopefully find out more about in the next book. Finally, this book continues the mystery of what the Marquess needs to tell his sons, which I expect to see wrapped up in the final book.

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Review: Every Scandalous Secret

Every Scandalous Secret
Every Scandalous Secret by Gayle Callen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had but this book off because the 2nd book in the series fell short and I lost some interest in finding out how it all ended. This is the third and last book in a series about 3 women (2 sisters and a cousin) who sneak into a men’s club to remove a painting of one of them nude. The three women are caught by 3 men and a wager is made between them whether or not the men can figure out whom the model within a month.

In the end, I was glad I finally picked up the book. I enjoyed Leo and Susanna and watching how they worked out their relationship. In typical fashion, Susanna felt the need to change Leo and could only feel he truly loved her if he embraced the change. But, before those lines are even drawn Leo was already changing. But due to Susanna’s insecurities and doubts, she had to push him along. I did feel that the added plot line revealing a secret in Leo’s life was unneccessary to the story and one could have explained his character in a less clich├ęd manner (or perhaps I have just had this same story line a few to many times in books I have recently read). It came off as more filler and that the author got almost to the end of the book and said well how to I get to the end. I would have preferred she spent more time on finalizing the wager (which is basically glossed over at the end) and bringing the 3 couples back together for a love filled show down, then pursuing this plot line.

As for the wager, well neither side really won. The painting was purchased by the man who loved the model and he did find his proof!

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Review: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought this book was okay for a gothic horror. The first half of the book was very detailed and a bit wordy, which made the story move along slowly. The second half of the book moved much better, but was neither scary or suspenseful. I just kept waiting for more to happen. The ending was given away due to the excessive amount of detail given by the author. Thus I was sitting at the end of the book saying don’t do that, knowing exactly what the outcome would be.

I can see how someone could take this book and make a good movie adaptation from it. In fact, I would expect the movie to tap much more into the gothic horror genre then this book has. The book, sadly just fell flat. No need to worry that this ghost tale will keep you up at night, the book shouldn’t inspire any fear.

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