The Cryptographer by Alice Wallis-Eton

29 March, 2016




The Cryptographer 
Author -  Alice Wallis-Eton
Genre -  Regency Romance
Series -  Second Sons, Book 1 of 4 
Pages -  254 
Published -  August 11, 2015
Publisher -  Self
Kindle link
POV -  Third Person
Language -  none
Sexual Content -  tame



Synopsis


Everybody has a secret, but some are harder to decipher… 

England, 1813. Aster Tanner is alone in the world and keeps a roof over her head by working the one asset she has – her mind. She needs her job; she does not need a Scotsman underfoot making her heart flutter with heated glances and impertinent questions.

Iain McIntyre, Captain in the Second Dragoons, has a confidential assignment: find a list rumoured to name traitors working against England. He is looking for anything unusual — like a woman working as a secretary. He tells himself his fascination with the lass is because she holds a man's position, and nothing to do with his rising desire to know the sharp mind hidden behind her darkened glasses.

When Aster is targeted by those intent on recovering the list, she must decide who to trust. She has seven encrypted names. But whose? Meanwhile, Iain is on the trail of a double agent. Time is running out, and secrets must be decoded before lives and hearts are sacrificed. 


Review


This was an enjoyable read start to finish.

I cared about the two leads, their associates, and their similar agendas that brought them together.

The author did a good job of creating the needed imagery in my mind to help the story move forward and give me a vivid idea of who these people are, where they came from, and why they behave the way they do.

The intrigue was there, and since this is a mystery revolving around the Napoleonic war with both leads doing their part to serve England, that sense of growing intensity lasted to the very end.

The two leads came together well, with both behaving wary at the start, fighting against their growing emotions in the middle, and then eventually caving in to them at the right moment.

Dougal, Aster's faithful terrier, was as well thought out and entertaining as the rest of the cast.

This is thorough Regency with believable female lead behavior and dashing male lead desire all rolled up into a riveting plot that unfolds at a moderate pace to label this a true page turner.

However, and keeping in mind that the author is from New Zealand, there were a lot of misplaced or misused/abused commas, and the misspellings/editing gaffs increased with each chapter.

The other issue was with the Chapter Titles, which were unnecessary and on the insulting side: naming each one based on which of the two leads was in action -- as if to say I wouldn't have figured it out otherwise.

I look forward to reading the other three novels in this series; especially after having been properly introduced to each man in this first novel.

Very anxious to discover how they fair in their turn at Regency Romance!


                                             Quinn Tulloch                            Aibne Kerr                                     Seamus



The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen

15 March, 2016





Length: 353 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 1, 2015)
Date: September 1, 2015
Sold by: Amazon
Series: Covent Garden Cubs (Book 2)
Sexual Content: 4-5
Language: mild



Synopsis


She's beyond his reach...
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London's dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society's most untouchable women, Lady Susanna Derring.

...and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London's glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother, and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it's too late. But as she descends into London's underworld, she finds that nothing - not even Gideon - is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she's willing to pay...for the love of a reformed thief.

Review


Mixed reviews about this 'free for a time' second installment in Shana Galen's Covent Gardens series. And, maybe I should have read the first novel prior to reading this one, too.

However, it wasn't a horrible read and was actually written quite well, but with continuity issues.

For me, when a sheltered woman who spent her entire life under the thumb of oppression suddenly and without much provocation does a complete turn-about, it irks me.

To have that same woman behave as if she came from an entirely different past with an entirely different set of circumstances at her disposal in order to behave like someone who lived a completely different life just doesn't make any sense to me.

At all.

Where do the bravado and gumption suddenly come from, I wonder? Who is this staunch Independent Thinker and why did she possess this once-mousy Wallflower?

The yearning for things like love, freedom, acceptance, and even sympathetic understanding are all viable, but the way in which an oppressed woman from the early Nineteenth Century goes about obtaining those things is not as cut and dry as the author would like us (or assumes) to believe.

Where is the fear, the guilt, the shame, and the doubt when Susanna hears gossip about her overbearing mother, so she takes it upon herself to visit Covent Gardens to find the answers to something that may or may not have even occurred twenty years ago?

And, what would she expect to find after all that time?

How is chatting up a home invader who just happens to know her sister-in-law an acceptable practice for one raised the way Susanna was raised? How is it possible for someone like her to order the thief about and demand that he accompany her to Covent Garden on a whim, after dark, and without a clue as to the workings of the 'outside' world?

I don't mind at all that Susanna comes from breeding and Gideon does not. I don't mind at all that these two might fall in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Heck, I don't even mind that Susanna fled that house and went on an adventure for the first time ever.

I just mind the personality conflict and total erasure of twenty years' worth of mindset that went out that door with her.

She spent 48 hours away from her mother and never once thought about the woman or how much trouble she might be in as a result of her far-fetched scheme to visit the Gardens and find out about that mother's mysterious past.

It was uncharacteristic and doesn't comply with being oppressed your whole life by domineering and heartless parents.

Gideon and Susanna together wasn't such an awful thing, and love-at-first-sight on his part doesn't bother me a whole lot. What confounds me time and again is how a woman of that caliber and upbringing can allow a man like him to be that forward and touch happy with her person.

In hovels and dark, musty cellars crawling with rats no less.

The author confused the two, I think, in having us believe that it was Gideon who fell in love first and not so much Susanna, who rarely offered us a glimpse of her inner feelings for anyone other than herself.

And yet she gave him far more than any woman of that period would give, and to a veritable stranger, whom she had no qualms about running off with, trusting implicitly, and naively assuming she'd be safe with the entire time.

All because she had the necklace he had stolen and wanted to run off with, change his entire persona after cashing in on, and never returning to London again.

Gideon as a street rat with some seasoned theft skills was believable, and his character was well-developed in my mind. Even a tad on the sexy side, but with some personality and fight-skill deficiencies that went against the grain of all things Romantic Hero.

Not that the hero needs to be perfect.

Gideon just wasn't the dashing type, nor was he the robust warrior type. He was a common thief with a half-conscience yearning for a different way of life, and that was his only redeeming quality.

Bottom line: easy read and somewhat enjoyable in the it's different category of Regency Romance, but more care needs to be taken in the development of personality traits, the era, and the sub plot about why it was so important for Susanna to discover the story of her past.

Even though these are labeled as stand-alone, I would recommend reading in order anyway. I, for one, became easily distracted by the introduction of the two leads from the first novel and kept wondering about them throughout this second in the series. "Would it make better sense if I'd read the first one first?" kind of thing that might have worked against my thoroughly enjoying this second novel.

Follows Earls Just Want to Have Fun and precedes I Kissed a Rogue.



Dark Prince by Eve Silver #Review

08 March, 2016




Pages: 352 pages
Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Eve Silver
Published: August 4, 2014
Buy: Amazon 
Series: Dark Gothic - Book 3
Language: none
Sexual Content: 2-5
Narrative: Jane Austen First




Blurb


Innkeeper’s daughter, Jane Heatherington, is sold into indentured servitude to cover her father’s debts, sold to Aidan Warrick, a man whose handsome face and form mock the rumors that skulk in his shadow, rumors that paint him a smuggler, a pirate…and worse.

On the rain-swept Cornish coast, Aidan’s business is carried out in the darkest hours of moonless nights, his secrets are many, and death follows in his wake. Isolated and alone, Jane's only companion is the man she dare not trust, the man who looks at her with heated desire that she both fears and craves.

As she finds herself ensnared in the twisted schemes carried out within the walls of Aidan’s looming estate, Jane must decide if Aidan Warrick is the dark prince of her dreams or a monster preying on the innocent.

Disclaimer


All books in the Dark Gothic Series are stand alone stories that can be read in any order

DARK DESIRES 
HIS DARK KISS 
DARK PRINCE 
HIS WICKED SINS 
SEDUCED BY A STRANGER 


Review


Really enjoyed this!

Well-written with few type-o's (most of which occurred towards the ending) and in a style quite reminiscent of Jane Austen.

In fact, it occurred to me about a quarter of the way through this surprisingly free read that the author must adore Jane Austen novels.

Dark, gloomy settings with a lot of misgivings and mystery for plot are employed, but what stuck out most was the voice that carried throughout -- hers -- the leading lady, Jane, yet not once did she say "I" or refer to herself as "me" in any of the narration.

Which is why it received only 4.5 stars and not 5, because like always, it would have been nice to get his side of the story and hear his feelings on some matters.

Even more strange is that this is, indeed, a dark tale but hardly Gothic as far as true history goes.

My mind will always think of Gothic as occurring mid 12th to the 16th century, and this story took place in the mid 19th century somewhere in England.

Both Jane and Aidan were well developed in my mind, and I was able to sympathize with both as the story unfolded. I hadn't seen the 'other' novel cover until I researched for this blog post, so the man you see above is not the guy who developed inside my head as I read this story.

Aidan, to my mind, was robust, handsome, and with shoulder-length blond hair and piercing grey-blue eyes, so I prefer the cover that introduced me to this tale, the girl on the moors, to the other.

And, poor Jane.

I thought that the author did a wonderful job of helping Jane to slowly but surely come to the realization that life prior to her having met Aidan was not quite as simplistic as she had imagined.

She wasn't over-the-top modern heroine plunked down in Regency England, and because of her bum leg, she wasn't capable of wielding a sword, firing off a shotgun, or leaping through dark forests in search of the enemy . . . thank heavens.

The author remained relatively true to the period in which this story was written, and the dark elements that prevailed didn't change mid-way or become much less of a concern as the story unfolded.

As for the romance aspect, it was sweet but spicy, and a well-developed Aidan can be thanked for much of that occurring. He was all man, all vengeance, and all-consuming when it came to matters of the heart both revenge and love-wise.

If you take reviews at face value, then you might not be interested in reading the other novels in this series since some of them claim that the author tends to write the same story but with different characters involved.

As for me, I am willing to take a chance because while I am not a fan of dark anything and do not care for first-person storytelling, I am intrigued enough by the author's style to want to find out more and discover new characters who might or might not face the same or even similar circumstances.

This was a FREE offer for a limited time, which shocked me after reading only four chapters because, as I mentioned, the writing is wonderful, the characters intriguing, and the story is captivating. It is listed at $3.99 on Amazon and worth that amount, if not more.


Book Review: Knight in Highland Armor by Amy Jarecki

01 March, 2016


Scottish Historical Romance



Pages: 382
Series: Highland Dynasty Book 1
Publisher: Rapture Books
Published: January 1, 2015
Available: Amazon
Author Website: Amy Jarecki
Style: 3rd Person
Language: mild
Sexual Content: 3-5



Plot


Grieving from the death of his wife, Lord Colin Campbell listens to the cries of his newborn son whilst penning a missive to the king. With no marriage prospects, Colin petitions his majesty for help in finding a stepmother. Never again will he fall in love—the death of a woman brings more pain than losing a whole contingent of men on the battlefield.

Feisty, quick tongued and smart, Margaret Robinson is delighted when her father receives a messenger from the king…until she discovers what news he brings. In a sennight, she will wed the notorious Black Knight—her life is about to end.

Tension builds during the wedding and deteriorates from there…until an accident draws them together. Just when their love begins to blossom, a dire request arrives from the Pope. Colin must join the Crusades at once.

Their fragile love is forced to withstand the seductions of hell—Margaret tempted by a scoundrel laird—Colin courted by Satan himself. Aye, the war for Christendom could very well ruin their dreams forever.


Review



The story takes place within an eight-year span in the fifteenth century -- late 1400's -- and begins in the Scottish highlands.

Well written and a captivating read.

A handsome knight in charge of a large and profitable Scottish realm is in great need of a wife to help raise Colin's first-born son after the death of his second wife almost immediately after she's given birth.

The tension was there to justify Colin's hasty decision to petition King John about finding him a new bride -- and he did state quite clearly that it was more a nursemaid he was after than a wife -- but it didn't take long for that dire need to wear off in my mind and make me think that the marriage itself is doomed and that Colin is too quick to cast judgment -- on too many issues.

I wasn't pleased with the way in which Colin and Margaret started their married life, but then neither were they, so . . .

Both leads are well developed.

I favored Margaret over Colin most of the time. She is filled with female notions yet remains grounded when push comes to shove. She has a flirtatious streak and loves to sing/dance, but is also just as eager to help Colin build his latest castle and takes charge of the proceedings in his absence.

I found nothing bullish or 21st Century minded about the woman, which is refreshing when reading a Historical Romance novel.

There were instances where the wording sounded on the modern side, but you will be hard-pressed to find fault with the writing in general or even encounter a type-o or three.

Very impressive.

Once Colin had a change of heart, it was his turn to shine.

And later, while he is away on Crusade #2, I started to become upset with Margaret and her last-second decision to do what she believed was the best thing for her two sons.

Ewen, the antagonist, was also a well-developed character and I had difficulty (sometimes) trying to figure out what was so wrong with him . . . but it eventually shows itself, his true colors, and then it was real easy to see why Margaret was heading down a worse path than even I had suspected when it didn't seem as if she intended to wait any longer for Colin to return.

After completing the novel, we are privy to Amy's research into the writing of this book and it is enlightening.

An Historical Romance filled with moments of tension, moments when you want to take sides, and moments when you have to wonder if anything is going to work out for these two.

Can be read as a stand-alone, but it is the first in a series.


What would a Romance Novel be, though, without a Happily Ever After?


 
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