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Tag Archives: Foreign Heroine

Review: A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses – Molly Harper

Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses

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Expected Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Pocket Books
Author’s Website: http://mollyharper.com/
My Source for This Book: Edelweiss
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Half Moon Hollow Series
Series Best Read In Order: Works well as a standalone.
Steam Level: Warm
Pet Peeves: Infidelity (Heroine)
Favorite Tropes: Major Betrayal

Official Blurb:

Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.

Complication One: Her grandfather was Mr. Wainwright and the artifacts are lost somewhere in what is now Jane Jameson’s book shop.

Complication Two: her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, who keeps turning up half naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn’t need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially when he’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard—can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?

What Worked For Me:

  • I loved Jed’s “secret”, especially since there was a lovely red herring to make readers think they know what’s going on when they don’t.
  • Even though I found much of the “search” distracting, I did enjoy the secondary characters quite a bit.
  • Jed was probably my favorite part of the entire story, and his betrayal certainly kept things interesting.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  • There was a lot of focus on Nola’s friendships and relationships with people in town, with no real sense of urgency in locating these objects which were imperative to pretty much saving the world.  This made the search quite boring at times, which was a big disappointment.
  • I was a little disappointed at the low amount of steam and chemistry as well.  I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Nola was cheating on her boyfriend, which is a big pet-peeve of mine, and I was hoping for some really intense chemistry between her and Jed in order to sort of make up for that fact for me.

The premise of this story was quite intriguing, and I knew as soon as Jed stepped onto the pages that his relationship with Nola was going to be quite enjoyable. However, despite how much I enjoyed his character, in the end, there wasn’t really much about this story that stood out to me.

There was so much focus on the townspeople of Half-Moon Hollow (which makes sense seeing as how this is the third installment in a series) that I found myself actually getting bored with Nola’s search for the artifacts that had drawn her to the town in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the secondary characters, especially Jane, but there was almost a “chick-lit” vibe to this book, when I had gone into it expected a somewhat steamy paranormal romance.

Overall, I would recommend this one to fans of the series, as they will be more likely to fully appreciate all of the emphasis placed on the residents of the town, but while I enjoyed it, I doubt that I will be reading more of this series in the future.

03stars3/5 Stars

Review: Shadow’s Stand – HQN – Sarah McCarty

Expected Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN Books
Author’s Website: http://sarahmccarty.net/
My Source for This Book: Netgalley
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 5, Hell’s Eight
Series Best Read In Order: Worked well as a standalone
Steam Level: Hot

Official Blurb:

Shadow Ochoa is lying low in the western Kansas Territory, waiting for his fellow Texas Rangers—the Hell’s Eight brotherhood—to clear his name. That is, until he’s unjustly strung up for horse thieving…and pretty Fei Yen intervenes. Invoking a seldom-used law, the exotic lady prospector claims Shadow as her husband and rides off with the bridegroom shackled to her buckboard.

Savvy, fearless Fei is single-mindedly devoted to her hidden claim and all it promises: wealth, security and freedom. A husband is just a necessary inconvenience and a name on paper to hold the claim she cannot.

Shadow isn’t a man to take orders from anyone, especially from lovely Fei—except that the daily friction between them ignites into nightly blazes of all-consuming passion. Soon Shadow is dreaming a little himself: of the life they could have if only Fei could see past the lure of independence. If only bounty hunters weren’t closing in on him. If only he’s left standing when the impending showdown has ended….

What Worked For Me:

  • I loved Fei.  Smart, beautiful, and cunning enough to know that no matter how unjust societies strictures may be, it’s better for a woman to manipulate them to her satisfaction than to outwardly buck against them. I truly adored how sly she was, and I laughed out loud several times at some of her bolder actions.
  • Oh Shadow. *fans self*  So deliciously alpha, and yet a good man underneath all of his crankiness, the fact that he was about to be hanged as a horse thief when Fei rescued him in a far more dramatic fashion than I’d anticipated simply added to his appeal.
  • Having never read other books in the series, I greatly appreciated the amount of history supplied so that when more characters from previous books made an appearance, I was never lost.
  • The climax of the book was very exciting, with plenty of action and harrowing moments.
  • I was also both please and amused with the resolution between Shadow and the rest of Hell’s Eight.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  • What really threw me off was the spanking. Now, just because something isn’t really my kink, that doesn’t mean that it’ll pull my rating down. However, when something like erotic spanking is going to be brought into a story, I tend to prefer a bit of, well, warning.  In my mind, there was nothing that hinted towards this type of thing until it was happening, and it really threw me for a major loop. In fact, I actually put this book down for quite a while because of this. Now, before all the die-hard Hell’s Eight fans grab the torches and pitchforks, remember I’d never actually heard of this series until I saw it on Netgalley, and in turn, didn’t realize that this series was considered to be more on the romantica side than regular romance.
  • The “elixir” in regards to the cousin and her captors seemed a little too convenient, though I admit this was a fairly minor point in the long run.

While I don’t think I’m a prude (because really, how can one read as much steamy romance as I do and still be a prude?), I was a bit taken aback by the spanking. Not that it was objectionable, mind you, just that it was unexpected in the context of the story and really threw my off my stride in reading this, and I don’t think I ever really recovered from it.

It was deliciously steamy, and I really loved the chemistry and dynamics between  Shadow and Fei Yen, but because unexpected spanking is unexpected, I couldn’t say that I loved it. *shrugs* From what I understand, though, this series tends to be more romantica than just steamy romance, which of course tends to have light kink and/or taboo acts in them just for the thrills. It was completely a case of mea culpa there since I didn’t pay attention to the fact that previous books in the series were from a steamier imprint.

Even knowing that, however, I can only go by what I actually felt while I was reading it, and in the end I simply never recovered my stride in reading after that one minor incident, no matter how much I enjoyed the characters and the storyline.

4/5 Stars

Review: Innocent in the Sheikh’s Harem – Harlequin Historical – Marguerite Kaye


Expected Release Date: June 1, 2011 (Available Now!)
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Harlequin Historical
Author’s Website: http://www.margueritekaye.com/
My Source for This Book: eHarlequin.com
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 2, Princes of the Desert Series
Series Best Read In Order: Worked well as a standalone
Steam Level: Steamy

Official Blurb:

Lady Celia Cleveden thinks of herself as eminently sensible from the tips of her sturdy boots to the top of her unadorned bonnet. It seemed logical she would marry an equally practical gentleman.

Until she’s rescued by wildly enigmatic desert prince Ramiz of A’Qadiz, while traveling across his unforgiving sands. He offers her a place in his harem and Lady Celia ought to be shocked…except the seductive desert and intoxicating Ramiz make it curiously tempting….

What Worked For Me:

  • It’s not often that I get a chance to read a historical novel that also features a foreign woman thrust into the exotic world of the Middle East, so I of course loved watching this delicate “English Rose” of a heroine not only discover that so many of her beliefs about the country she was visiting were merely fanciful exaggerations by those who didn’t understand what they were seeing, but also to watch her let go of some of her more “proper” English conventions and embrace the local customs and behaviors.
  • I’m also a big fan of the “virgin widow” trope, even though it’s only a common occurrence in novels and not in reality.  There’s just something I enjoy about a heroine who has been married but who has never really been “a wife”.
  • On the same note, I was quite pleased with Ramiz’s reaction to learning of Celia’s innocence, and how he tried so hard to resist her but failed.
  • Celia’s family was full of wonderful characters as well, and I especially loved her imaginative sister’s worry that she was being held as a sensual hostage in the harem.
  • I also greatly liked that there weren’t any real “Big Misunderstandings” that dragged the angst out forever. While there was one situation that caused a rather large argument and some tears, it was quickly resolved, which I appreciated.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  •  While I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, I was a little disappointed that the book glossed over just how unacceptable a match between an English widow and a Sheikh would have been for the people of such a conservative, traditional country.  Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to see such a happy ending, but it rang so false, especially given everything that the heroine had been told over the course of the entire novel, that I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I’d anticipated.

I have a confession to make: I adore Sheikh stories. They’re a total guilty pleasure of mine. I also happen to love historicals, so when I saw that this was not only a Sheikh story but an historical Sheikh story, I knew I had to snag it.

Luckily for me, it quite lived up to my expectations.  Having several of my favorite (and guilty pleasure) tropes, there was plenty of drama and angst, but also wonderful sensuality and of course the lovely exotic backdrop of a Middle Eastern country that is a main reason to read Sheikh stories.

Celia was a strong heroine, without being blatantly “modern” — she was uncomfortable at first in the native garb of pants and a tunic and the idea of no corset, and she was appalled at the idea of being installed into a harem, or even bathing in front of other women.  Ramiz, as well, was “progressive” without completely ignoring the traditional male roles of the period. He was astonished at the idea of sharing political conversations with a female, and while he was strongly attracted to Celia, I think it was a while before he truly saw her as more than just a “woman”.

While I do wish it had been a bit longer, and perhaps had been a tiny bit more realistic ending, overall I greatly enjoyed this story. A very solid 4/5 Stars

Review: The Naked Duke – Zebra – Sallie MacKenzie

 

The Surprise of Her Life

Sophisticated. Scandalous. In fact, Miss Sarah Hamilton, a proper Philadelphian, finds London society altogether shocking. How can it be that she has awakened from her innocent slumber to find herself in bed next to a handsome–and exceedingly naked–man? The laughing onlookers standing in the doorway are no help whatsoever and surely this amorous lunatic cannot be a duke, as he claims. She is compromised–though she most certainly will not marry him!

The Sweetest Moment of His

James, the Duke of Alvord, is enchanted by his unexpected bedmate–and not at all afraid of her pink-cheeked fury. True, the circumstances and place of their meeting are most unusual, but the spirited American who’s pummeling him with a pillow is an incomparable beauty. If Sarah will only listen to his perfectly reasonable explanation, James is sure that he can capture her heart…forever.

I am a huge fan of the “marriage to avoid scandal” plotline in my regency romances, because there’s something supremely romantic to me about two virtual strangers who are forced to forge a marriage of convenience due to society’s dictates, and yet find a deep and abiding love together.

What worked for me:

  • I loved that this book started out as a comedy of errors.  Despite my dislike of forced nudity in romance novels, I had to be amused as to how it seemed everyone had seen poor Sarah naked by the end of the book.
  • I loved that
    SPOILER ALERT SelectShow Spoiler
  • I absolutely adored James’ family, and the comic relief that they all brought.
  • I quite literally laughed out loud when I found out that it was
    SPOILER ALERT SelectShow Spoiler
    who had spread the rumor of what happened at The Green Man amongst the ton.  I don’t necessarily approve of that method however, because it could’ve easily backfired, but still, it was great for a laugh.

What didn’t work for me:

  • There were several scenes of relatively explicit sexual assault in this book. One was an in-the-moment rape and murder, and there were two fairly explicit attempted rapes of the heroine. I was a bit taken aback as this seemed to be an otherwise rather lighthearted regency romance, and those assaults didn’t really mesh with the overall tone of the book.
  • I noticed that it seemed that all of the villains in the book were bisexual. While I’m certain this wasn’t the author’s intent, I almost felt as though she were using their sexual preferences as further evidence that they were dastardly people. I wholeheartedly disapprove of this, despite the knowledge that it could’ve merely been my interpretation of the writing rather than the author’s intent.
  • James seemed a little “too perfect” to me at times. He was handsome, rich, responsible, caring, and so forth, with very few negative aspects.  Not that I wanted him to be a jerk or anything, but a few flaws would be nice.

Overall, I did feel that the positive points outweighed the negatives, though there were a few things that seemed to be at odds with the otherwise lighthearted comedic romance.  In the end, I have to say this was an enjoyable, funny read, and I would indeed recommend it to my friends.

3.5/5 Stars