Claudette in the Shadows is a romantic novella, which acts as a prequel to M.J. Hearle’s Winter’s Shadow and Winter’s Light. I found it a really interesting read and a great little taste of the world Hearle has created.
Claudette is a sixteen-year-old girl, living with her fugitive family in Amsterdam. They have been running from Victor Bonnaire and his men, the Devil’s Bane for as long as she can remember. Claudette is experiencing her first love - Simon Fontellier - and discovering the secrets her parents have kept hidden from her and her twin brother, Blake. At first, she is a little naive (which is understandable for her age) but she matures through the course of the novella, though not in the way you might expect. The dark turn of Claudette’s character arc was one of the most interesting aspects of the story.
As Claudette learns about her family and her father’s history, she is in more danger than ever. The family prepares to leave Amsterdam and settle in a new city, but Claudette rebels and goes to the Fontieller’s ball. Simon leads her into the gardens for a romantic moonlit walk and Claudette has visions of him confessing his love on bended knee, but things take a turn for the worse when some of Victor’s men arrive.
Hearle’s writing style is evocatively descriptive and easy to read. I was really intrigued by the world he has created, particularly the Krypthia and the Malfaerie. Claudette in the Shadows is a captivating paranormal novella with a gothic twist. It would suit younger readers who enjoy tales of magic and mystery, as well as historical romances.
For more info on the book as well as the author, click here.
Also - I LOVE the cover of this book! Very gothic and cool.
A copy of this book was generously provided by Momentum Books.
Series: Pennyroyal Green
Author: Julie Anne Long
Swoon Factor: DON’T LOOK AT ME
After reading How the Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long, I immediately went on Booktopia and ordered six of her other books. Sadly, they did not arrive in order so I wasn’t able to start from the beginning of the series as I would have liked. And to be honest, I think it would have helped a bit but it didn’t detract at all from the experience of this book.
Everyone believes that Genevieve Eversea is shy, unassuming and safe. Her family believes that she is the sensible one amongst a group of hotheads who are ruled by their passions. Little do they know that beneath Genevieve’s calm exterior beats the heart of a wanton.
Genevieve has been waiting breathlessly for her best friend, Harry, to propose to her. But when that doesn’t come along, she finds herself the target of a scheme brewed up by the wicked Lord Moncreiffe – infamous in the ton for the suspicious death of his first wife. See, Alex has a plan to ruin Genevieve as part of his revenge against the rascal Ian Eversea, Genevieve’s older brother. What ensues is a gorgeous story of self-discovery and sweet, sweet love.
The sheer brilliance of this book is that Ms. Long has set the entire storyline up to follow one well-loved trope, but halfway through the book it’s dashed away and readers of “old-school” romances (i.e. me) are left wondering how the complication could be addressed so soon. You see, our hero and heroine actually SPEAK to one another. They don’t rely on conjecture, and they don’t assume. They have real conversations because they are clever. And that’s what clever people do.
The banter between the hero and heroine left me positively giddy. You know that feeling when you’re reading a particular scene and the feelings just bubble up inside you and froth up so much that you’re grinning too much and you have to take a break to continue? No? Well…it happened to me!! I never wanted this book to end.
I thought that Genevieve was a really good heroine. She had a stupid infatuation for some guy that didn’t deserve her love, but hey. We’ve all been there. She got a bad rap from her family and they really should look at her more but maybe it’s because she never gave them a reason to turn her way. And she finally was given that chance with Alex. He made her see herself for what she really was – a heathen. There was passion beneath her cool façade and he was so determined to get to it himself, that he unleashed this dam of emotions and made her an even better version of herself. And she did the same to him.
There’s an honesty about these two that breaks my heart. They tremble for each other and they know how much they want each other. It’s equal and true, and there’s no weird power balance when it comes to emotions.
There was one thing that I would have liked though and that would have been a longer resolution. It came too quick and I wanted a harder realisation of love. I loved how it was written, don’t get me wrong, but I just wanted more time with both Genevieve and Alex for them to talk about their love for each other and for Genevieve to realise that she actually didn’t love what’s-his-face sooner.
This might be semi-incoherent but that’s because it’s two am and I’m just so desperate for more JAL that I can’t think clearly. Please, read it guys. She’s so good.
Series: Nemesis Unlimited
Author: Zoe Archer
Swoon Factor: “I’ll be in my bunk,” as Jayne of Joss Whedon’s Firefly says.
As I wrote earlier on our blog (while I was travelling in Japan), I really enjoyed Sweet Revenge. Now I’m going to tell you why and there are oh, so many reasons. This is a historical romance with a difference.
Jack Dalton is a working class bloke, who went from bare-hand boxing to bodyguarding a noble, Lord Rockley. When Rockley murders his sister, a prostitute, Jack tries to kill him but ends up sent to Dunmoor Prison. He is also so desperate for revenge, he escapes from prison and into the waiting arms of Nemesis.
Nemesis Unlimited (still not sure how I feel about the name of the group…) is a group of people from mixed background - peerage and common - who have made it their personal mission to help others who have no one else to turn to. They are the poor man’s Justice League; funding Nemesis out of their own pockets.
The first member of Nemesis Jack meets is Eva Warrick. She is a tough, no-nonsense bad ass young woman that can handle a pistol - in fact, the first thing she does is point one at him. She’s not afraid of Jack, despite his huge Henry Cavill physique (excuse me while I fan myself).
Together, they work to take down Lord Rockley and provide justice for the other young women he has taken advantage of.
What I loved about this was that the plot had a good mix of mystery and action as well as romance; it kept fast pace throughout and I never skipped a scene. I also loved the unique working class perspective and the roughness of Jack Dalton. This is the first time I’ve read a historical romance in which the hero is an escaped convict. My favourite line of his has to be, “Go bugger yourself, Lord Cuntshire.” (I may have laughed a little too loud on the bullet train when I read this.)
The tension between Jack and Eva is palpable throughout the book and the first sex scene was perfect. There was no emphasis or even mention of Eva’s experience or lack of experience. There was no slut/virgin shaming. She was just a woman acknowledging her desires and doing what she wanted. And when it came time for Jack to leave and start a new life with a new identity, she didn’t just run off with him straight away. She was seriously conflicted because Nemesis meant so much to her. I love that when she recognises her love for him and her desire to be with him, she doesn’t give up who she is. In the end, they find a way to be together, pursue their passions - boxing and teaching - and still help Nemesis occasionally.
Overall, great plot, interesting characters and entertaining dialogue. I can’t wait for the next one in the series, Dangerous Seduction, which comes out November this year.
Review: The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
Swoon Factor: Keep your smelling salts handy
Not too long ago one of our followers suggested we check out Courtney Milan’s novella, The Governess Affair. At the time (and possibly even now?) the ebook was available to download for free in a whole bunch of places so naturally, I took the opportunity to get myself a copy. And I’m so glad that I did.
Selena Barton has set herself up outside the Duke of Clermont’s home until he agrees to compensate her for getting her fired from her position as a governess. Unfortunately for her, the duke set’s his man of business, Hugo Marshall on her. Hugo is also known as the Wolf of Clermont and is absolutely ruthless about protecting the duke’s (and by extension his own) interests.
As they engage in a battle of wits they begin to develop a respect and understanding for each other but, as is often the way of these things, neither Selena or Hugo are in a position to back down.
It all sounds reasonably straight forward, right? Wrong. There is so much going on in this novella, but the unfolding of each new twist is half the fun so I’m leery of giving too much away. There were moments when I was sure I knew exactly what was about to happen, or I was bracing myself for ginormous leaps in logic and pacing only to have Milan side step it all.
Novella’s aren’t normally my style when it comes to reading romance. Generally they feel a little too rushed for me to believe in the HEA but that really wasn’t the case with The Governess Affair. I’ll admit to a few moments when I wanted more, but by the end of the novella I felt secure.
That said, it was obviously written to be a teaser for the Sinister Series. In this way the brevity worked so very well. I was definitely left wanting more by the time I finished. Not to detract from the skill and artistry of Milan’s writing but that’s some seriously clever marketing right there. I’m sure I’m not the only person who will have downloaded The Governess Affair only to get hooked in so deep they *need* to get the rest of the series.
Book: Lover at Last
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood
Author: J R Ward
Publication date: March 2012
Genre/sub genre: Paranormal
Swoon Factor: I’m not feeling anything but disgust.
Um I hated this book. If it had been a hardcopy and not an ecopy I would have thrown it across my flat so many times.
I was so looking forward to it and it just didn’t do it. First off J R Ward’s books have always been crack, they’re flawed but so damn addictive I can look past the flaws. This time there was nowhere to hide. I’m just going to list the ways it failed because I’m struggling to find anything nice to say.
- The sex was terrible. I don’t want to read about ‘penetration’ unless I’m back in year 6 sex ed. There is nothing sexy about that. To quote Fat Amy ‘Not a good enough reason to use the word penetrate’
-Penetrating what? Ward has a ton of names for vagina but can’t say butt? arse? ass? bottom? or come up with anything? I get the feeling that a lot of this is tied up in homophobic censorship. Yep I said it.
- Layla’s needing. So when Bella went through her needing every time she had sex it got worse, she needed sex and sex and sex and sex and Zsadist was practically in a coma by the end. But Quinn leaves her? after one go? to suffer through her needing? yes I get it he’s gay but at that point he’s unaware of that and having sex with women all over the shop.
- Layla get’s preggerz after one go. Similar to Bella, but was it not stressed with Bella that it’s super rare for pregnancy to happen straight away? or is this just a vamp myth much like the human equivalent?
- Layla’s romance with Xcor. Book 12 or 13? and awkward. so Awkward… does he actually put his finger to her mouth to stop her talking? and no kissing? whut?
-Xcor’s ‘disfigurement’. What is his disfigurement? did I miss something? or is it like Qhuinn’s different coloured eyes? a total non issue that J R Ward is trying to make seem terrible?
-J R Ward’s disability BS. Has J R Ward ever met a person with a disability? she treats Wrath’s vision impairment like it’s the end of the world and totally justifies his lying (by omission) to Beth about babies. Obviously this is an issue that has carried on since the first book but it’s really bugging me. As someone who has grown up around people with disability’s I feel like J R Ward really needs to talk to someone with disability about how it’s not the end of their life.
-Qhuinn’s virginity. So it’s not true love unless someone brings their virginity along with them?
-Qhuinn’s losing of said virginity. 1. it didn’t hurt, so it doesn’t always have to hurt but BLAY DIDN’T LUBE UP. 2. Blay didn’t notice. In fact he just jammed his cock right in Qhuinn’s butt..
-Saxon isn’t a terrible guy, in fact he got treated like crap and that was like totes ok. NO IT WASN’T.
-Miscarriage. The magical cure for Layla’s almost miscarriage was just the worst. seriously. Just no.
So this is the worst review I’ve ever done. I don’t even know how to do this. I try and say something nice for every crap thing I say for a book but I can’t even come up with something nice. seriously. it was just that bad.
Here at OaPC we try to keep on top of the latest releases, but we know there is nothing better than reading a review about a book that hasn’t been released yet. We are currently in the process of applying to be ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) reviewers, but if any of our lovely followers (or Lurkers, we know you’re out there) want to send us something to review, we’d be more than happy. Just send us a message through our tumblr and we’ll work out all the details.
If you want to send us a physical copy, remember we live in Australia.
We will also accept digital copies in epub or kindle format.
Have an awesome weekend and keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming reviews!
Review: The Summer of You by Kate Noble
Swoon Factor: Keep your smelling salts handy
I decided to head home for the Easter weekend and take a little time to relax in the familiar. As it turns out, spending more than three consecutive days in the company of my father can be a little … tiring so I found myself retreating into a book. Specifically, The Summer of You by Kate Noble.
Lady Jane Cummings has been outmanoeuvred and now she has to spend the summer with her ailing father and good-for-nothing brother at their family estate, rather than in London (where there are doctors and family friends that could help look after her father). Add to this the people of Merrymore can’t quite forget the trouble she used to cause as a child and are struggling to see her as the young lady she has become, and it’s no wonder she’s looking for a means of escape. She finds it in Bryne Worth; wounded war hero, brooding gentleman, total grouch, and (according to town gossip) elusive highwayman.
Jane and Bryne begin a tentative friendship over jasmine tea. Neither is particularly interested in sharing their secrets at first but they become a sort of safe haven for each other. Someone that can be absolutely counted on and that kind of person is rare for them both. And then of course, there’s their attraction.
The Summer of You is the second novel in a series however it works very well as a standalone. It’s also the kind of novel that you can keep coming back to. To be honest I’ve read it at least twice before. For me it’s a comfort read, but the kind of one that I go to when I need more than the standard sexy protagonists trading witty remarks. There’s depth and emotion and sexy protagonists trading witty remarks.
Jane’s family situation touches me in a very personal way. She’s suddenly found herself as The Responsible Adult and isn’t sure how to handle that. I’ve been there, and frankly it would have been wonderful if I’d had a Bryne Worth around to drink tea with. But I guess in the meantime I have The Summer of You.
Swoon Factor: Eyelashes flutter…every four chapters or so
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Open Season is a thriller or mystery novel, judging by the cover. No surly heroes or swooning heroines with gaping bodices here. But Linda Howard’s 2002 novel is a mystery romance and the territory is evenly spread between the two genres. I like these types of romances because sometimes I want a little more to think about than the development of a relationship in a romance novel.
Daisy Minor is a bored librarian who, after an epiphany on her 34th birthday, decides to shake up her life and her style. She gets a makeover, a haircut and starts going to bars to meet men. I love librarian romances! While I don’t think every librarian romance needs a Not Another Teen Movie style makeover, in this case it is central to some plot points in the book.
Chief of Police, Jack Russo (ex-SWAT by the way) is introduced before Daisy’s makeover (big tick there). He’s new in town, hired by the Mayor to usher in a new era without small town politics getting in the way of actual police work. Their relationship starts off with a mini argument (love-hate - another tick). However, the initial description of his character had me confused and for a little while I thought he was going to be villain. He’s described as athletic, with a thick neck and sloping shoulders. His eyes are full of cocky arrogance and his full lips seemed to be on the verge of sneering. I don’t know why but for me, villains sneer and heroes smirk. It’s only a slight difference but it changes my whole perspective on the character. For that reason, I decided to imagine him as an older Tyler Hoechlin.
The book is funny and moments and sexy in others; the mystery driving the plot is interesting and there are a few twists. Overall, it was a good read but nothing spectacular. It is the first romance novel over $10 that I’ve bought for my kindle. I don’t regret the purchase but neither do I consider it to be a purchase of great value.
To get value for money, go for the mass-market paperback and enjoy an interesting tale of romance and intrigue that will keep you entertained for a night or two.
I would also love any recommendations for librarian romance you would like me to check out!
Swoon Factor: Read this one reclining on a chaise while someone fans you
So … yeah … it’s been a very long time since I’ve written a review. As it turns out 2012 has been a very busy year. Along with studying and assignmenting, I’ve suddenly found myself with roughly 12 jobs, thus ending my job drought. All this aside I haven’t stopped reading, and having opinions on what I’m reading, I’ve just postponed writing those opinions down. That’s all changing. I’ve regrouped, and come up with a fool proof plan to ensure I still get reviews out. Starting with About That Night by Julie James.
This is the third book in the FBI/US Attorney series,although it can be read as a standalone. Rylann Pierce is an assistant U.S attorney at the top of her game professionally if not personally. She’s recently moved to Chicago after a disappointing end to a long-term relationship and is looking to get stuck into work. Enter Kyle Rhodes. Kyle is of course the brother of Jordan Rhodes from book two of the series. Kyle has recently been release from prison after having been infamously dubbed the ‘Twitter terrorist’ and indicted on multiple federal charges. He’s also a billionaire heir playboy, and the guy that Rylann almost dated in college.
Is it sounding complicated yet? Maybe it’s because I’ve read the previous books (along with a couple of Ms James’ other releases) but it’s actually pretty straight forward once you get past the back story of why a convicted criminal is a perfectly awesome hero for a lawyer heroine (and they really are perfect for each other). There is a subplot wherein Kyle is the star witness in Rylann’s case meaning that they can’t be together while the trial is ongoing as it’s a conflict of interest and unethical and so damn frustrating because there are sparks people.
About That Night was thoroughly enjoyable. If you’ve been looking for a way to get back into contemporary romance anything by Julie James is a great place to start. Her novels are effortless and enjoyable to read, to the point where you have to be a little careful you don’t accidently catch the wrong train home because you were too involved in the scene to take notice of exactly where the train was going … not that I’ve ever done that …