Thursday, December 25, 2014

A King Undone by Cooper Davis


Noble Pleasures - Book 1

One of my favourite m/m historical authors, KJ Charles mentioned reading this book and had many nice things to say about it. Off I went and bought it.

The world in which our heroes, Arend and Julian, live, is a world where men may openly court and marry men. That's all well and good, but we find that there are still questions of lineage, heirs and royal duty. So when the widowed King Arend finally seeks out and contracts a male concubine long after the death of his queen, one would think that things would go smoothly. He's done his bit for the kingdom and produced an heir with his late non-lamented wife but oops... the prince is all about the men too. Anyway, King Arend contracts with the Temple Sapphor and gains the gorgeous Julian as his concubine for a year.

I loved this story. And funny, I didn't think I would at first. The voice of the author, Cooper Davis, is sort of different. Sort of .... let me tilt my head until I figure what I'm hearing wrong. Once I got used to it, once I realised that this is actually how the residents of this alternate Victorian world think and speak, things got a whole lot better. I still found myself brought up a few times by the constant use of the term male instead of man and thinking why can't he just be a man for heaven's sake! But that's how these folk think of men... I think... as males. I dunno, it's weird, but for the most part it works.

The other thing that sort of set my teeth on edge was what I felt was a feminisation of the concubine, Julian. Julian described as quite gorgeous, quite beautiful, big and manly but with a feminine voice... I'm going to be honest, I spent some time wondering if Julian was suddenly going to turn out to be trans because these things were mentioned somewhat regularly. I understand that Julian's voice is unique and different and I assume... high? I found it puzzling, but maybe that's just me.

And then there's the end. Talk about ABRUPT! It's not really a cliffhanger in the sense that no one is dangling off the edge of said cliff, but there are SO many questions unanswered and the tale of Arend and Julian is really just beginning. I actually double checked to see if I had skipped a chapter or something! *LOL*

One of the things on the big plus side is the angst and the UST. OH MY GOD! It steams right off the page/screen. The intimate scenes are SO intimate and sensual and sexy. And the dialogue... OMG, there is some terrific banter all throughout the book. (And yes, I've already begun pairing up a couple of the secondary characters.).

Those are the things that didn't let me give this book 5 stars, but I'll tell ya... I'm all over the next one in the series!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Feast of Stephen by KJ Charles


A Charm of Magpies - Book 3.5

Loved it!

A perfect story for the holiday season! It has a very family feel about it and I love the way KJ was able to work the traditional carol into Stephen and Lucien's love story. It worked REALLY well for me.

Thanks for the lovely Christmas prezzie, KJ! It was just what I needed today. :)

Three the Hard Way by Sydney Croft


An ACRO Novella

Okay, it barely makes it as a Christmas story. This novella is set at Christmastime and it refers back to a major backstory plot point that takes place on Christmas, but other than that, it's not really a holiday type read. *LOL* And that's okay!

The story makes up a small part of the Acro World, adventure/thriller romances and what we have here is an adventure/thriller peopled by gorgeous men who have all kinds of super type powers. :) There are a pair of opposing organisations (ACRO and ITOR) that make use of people like these guys. And there's lots of gunfire and lots of sexytimes. :) And it was FUN!

As this is a novella that focusses on three main characters, there's not a lot of room for character depth and growth, but that's not a problem in my eyes. I like to look at it as watching a James Bond movieor an X-Men or Avengers movie.

This is the first thing I've read by Sydney Croft (Stephanie Tyler and Larissa Ione) and as I understand it, the rest of the novels and stories in this universe are m/f. I feel fully confident in saying that if you enjoy some paranormal adventure with plenty of steamy sex and hot romance, Sydney Croft is certainly worth your time. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mistletowed by Tara Lain


Another Christmas/Holiday read. It has an interesting premise. Mistletoe magic and secret heart's desires and fated meetings. Unfortunately, these things don't really get explored in any depth. But, if you're in the mood for a quick, hot, fun, holiday story with not much delving into characters and personalities and plot, well, this is a good story. :) I did chuckle out loud once or twice.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander


Millworth Manor - Book 1

This is the second of my Christmas reads and I must say, after the first few chapters, I enjoyed it very much.

It's a light-hearted romance - in fact I found myself chuckling under my breath more than once and even laughed out loud a time or two. It was the most well-written novel I've ever read, that's a fact. There is head-hopping, hyperbole, deus ex machina and all those good things, but it was such FUN to read.

I guess the real tale is that I found the whole cast of amusing and silly characters quite enjoyable and would be ready to see what other mischief they could get up to. I did enjoy that there were no paragons of virtue AT ALL. All the main characters had their flaws and their moments of - ooh, I don't like you! - but in the end, I ended up liking them! *LOL*

Anyway, a fun Christmas read.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sleigh Ride by Heidi Cullinan


Minnesota Christmas - Book 2

I finished this book a half an hour ago and I'm still smiling. I loved it. Totally and completely loved it.

Sleigh Ride is the second installment in the Minnesota Christmas series - the first one came out last Christmas season. When I began to read it, it didn't take long before I felt as if I had just curled up in front of a blazing fireplace with a blankie and a good cup of coffee, reading by the light of the Christmas tree.

This is the story of Arthur, the ginger bear who is so rough and ready and amazingly marshmallowy; and Gabriel, one of the most endearing characters that I think Heidi has ever written.

Arthur is so straighforward, it seems, and Gabriel is so tightly wound, so ... I guess the popular word is damaged?.. so very much inside his head as many smart folk are. They are such opposites and well, opposites do attract, don't they? Each has a need that the other fulfills, but above and beyond that, they LIKE each other. Even when Gabriel was freaking out about what he'd done with Arthur, I still got the feeling that he couldn't help but like him.

There are some serious things addressed in this book as well as the romance and the hot and steamy stuff. There is a scene in the library, 3/4s of the way through the book that had me dissolved in tears, having to put aside the e-reader for a little bit because I was so overwhelmed. Not in a bad way at all. In a very good way. And in the same vein, some of Gabriel's observations and reminiscences of growing up gay could very easily be thought of as lecturing or preaching, but Gabriel being Gabriel (or Gabe as Arthur calls him), you know that this is exactly how he would talk. And it's never boring or pedantic or any of those things. I'm explaining this badly, I know, just works. :)

Throughout the book we meet some old friends (including a mention of the couple from the very first Heidi C. book I ever read - the book that hooked me. *LOL*) and we make some lovely new friends.

And something that was a very big deal for me... both Arthur and Gabriel are over the age of 35. Mature men! What a breath of fresh air!!

Oh, I loved this book. So much. And loved these men so much as well. And yes, I'm still smiling. A perfect book for the season... a perfect love story that I'm still thinking about and creating images of their future in my brain.

Thanks Heidi, you've done it again!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Interlude with Tattoos by KJ Charles


A Charm of Magpies Interlude

Exactly as advertised, an interlude between Book One and Book Two of the A Charm of Magpies series. A lovely, steamy, fun interlude that hit the spot when looking for a quick enjoyable read.

I love this author and I love this series.

The King's Deryni by Katherine Kurtz


Childe Morgan Trilogy - Book 3

Deryni Rising
, the first in the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz was published in 1970 and was the book that instilled a love for fantasy that is still strong today, almost 45 years later.

The King's Deryni is the latest of Katherine's Deryni novels, closing The Childe Morgan trilogy. The previous book in this series, Childe Morgan, was published in 2006. It's been eight years, yes. EIGHT years. George R.R. Martin doesn't even compete. *LOL*

Now the books of the last 15 years, beginning with King Kelson's Bride, have not been as totally wonderful as the previous books and series. Too many characters, not enough important and interesting events plot-wise and just... they've not been the same. That being said, The King's Deryni was more than I expected, even though some of the events were just retellings of incidents that we had seen before in Deryni Tales and flashbacks in other Deryni books.

The King's Deryni is basically telling us the story, the broad strokes of which we know quite well, of Alaric Morgan and his king, Brion Haldane, and how Morgan came to be the man and the hero we were introduced to way back in Deryni Rising. If you're not a fan of the Deryni, you will not enjoy this book at all. It's a book for the longtime fan, I think. Fleshing out characters and tales that we all know. Although, I need to do some research to find out what happened to Llion, Alaric's long-time mentor and protector.

I took my time reading this book, savouring it because I fear that it might be Katherine's last. She has just turned 70, but I hope... oh, I do hope, that she has enough left in her to write the book about the year 948. I know she intends to, but I don't know if there's another 8 years left!

So, the writing is not what it once was. The plotting is not what it once was. Characterisation has taken a bit of a hit - and yes, I still bitch about the precociousness of Alaric the child. But this is a book about my beloved Deryni by my favourite Katherine and since it's official publication date was December 2nd, the day before my own birthday, I like to think it was written just for me, and as such I have cut it some slack. I have loved reading it and some of the passages, some of the tales told therein have shown flashes of the wonder of earlier volumes. The scenes concerning the grey mare especially were of that sort.

So, yes. Definitely not of the ilk of The Legends of Camber of Culdi trilogy, nor The Harrowing of Gwynnedd nor High Deryni - this Deryni book, The King's Deryni was still a treat for me. :)