PositiveAll About RomanceThis is a light tale with a lot of under-the-surface depth. We have the sweetness of the love story, combined with the whimsical humor revolving around Gemma’s gift – I literally laughed out loud when her high school teacher first appeared – and the heavier issues that Gemma and Levi are dealing with ... The strength of the narrative lies in the charm of its leads ... My only quibble with the story is that it suffers from a mild case of what I call the \'terrible toos\'. In this case, the story felt too dense and heavy at times, which made the humor fall flat occasionally. It also had too much going on ... a sweet, heartfelt novel. It’s not perfect but I would still recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary stories and doesn’t mind a bit of a paranormal twist.
RaveAll About RomanceRomance, mystery, and monsters combine to give us a compelling look at the human heart ... hearing the tale from Carlota’s viewpoint – along with the new setting – gives us a riveting, unique read ... Ms. Moreno-Garcia’s lyrical prose does such credit to the storytelling behind the enigmas that it is almost better to go in completely unaware of what is happening ... The centerpiece of any good gothic is the setting and Yaxaktun with its chilling, atmospheric, desolate, and dangerous location is perfect. From the moment the tale begins, we are transported to an other-worldly, sinister locale where danger seems to lurk in the very air, and the author does a fantastic job of transfusing a lurking foreboding into every moment of her text. Even when nothing overtly strange is happening, there is this lingering, delicious sense of impending doom that seems to hover over the ranch and its inhabitants, waiting for its moment ... The second most important factor to any gothic is the heroine, and Carlota is a fantastic one ... superficially a gothic/sci-fi/horror/action-adventure retelling of a literary classic but below the surface is an absolutely fascinating look at the human heart and the history of colonialism. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good book that is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining.
RaveAll About Romance... fabulous ... The cultural aspect of this book is spectacular. Rachel’s Judaism is more than just the typical window dressing of lighting a few candles – we’re shown how her faith affects every aspect of her life, from what she eats to a world view that places family and community central to her identity ... The author also does a great job of showcasing living with a chronic illness...Ms. Meltzer captures with complete credibility the impatience and intolerance of others who don’t understand what being chronically ill means and the frustration and hurt caused when people accuse the sufferer of faking or exaggerating their illness to get out of things they don’t want to do ... And Rachel is, frankly, fabulous ... I loved their romance in spite of the above foibles. The author does such a wonderful job showing us who these people are and why they’re perfect for each other that I found myself rooting for them from the start ... Ms. Mehtzer’s love for Judaism and her real-life experience with myalgic encephalomyelitis help The Matzah Ball to ring with sincere, heartfelt authenticity. I was completely charmed by the story and think readers looking for a poignant, slow burn romance will enjoy it too.
PositiveAll About RomanceThis classic noir narrative is a beautifully written snapshot of one of the darkest times in Mexican/American history ... the narrative evoked sorrow, horror, and pity from me ... And while the writing is amazing and the characters compelling, the subject matter could be so dark and difficult that it was hard to stay engaged with the story, and I found myself at times struggling to finish the novel. Velvet Was the Night, with its beautiful prose and haunting storyline and imagery, is a book that will appeal to fans of gritty, unsentimental crime fiction that takes a hard look at the difficult realities of the more treacherous parts of the world and who enjoy flawed (in some cases deeply so) characters finding their way forward in the midst of peril.
RaveAll About Romance... a not-to-b- missed read ... The author does a nice job of showing how basic investigative work begins to unravel the Merton siblings’ alibis. She also does a great job of slowly peeling away the layers of their personalities so that we get to know the real people beneath the sympathetic facades ... Many thrillers are lauded for their twists and turns, and this book is no exception. Each new piece of information yanks us in a different direction. The fact that we have a plethora of possible killers is another factor that really drives up the suspense in the tale ... She weaves fantastically complicated, intricate personas out of our typical suburban characters. Not a Happy Family is a terrific read for anyone who loves the suburban thriller market or who enjoys character driven whodunits. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good mystery.
RaveAll About RomanceBen and Anna are deeply attracted to each other from the start, but I liked how the author doesn’t fall into an insta-lust equals insta-couple trap ... I’ve read all of Ms. Guillory’s books and I found this one to have the highest heat factor ... Ben is fantastic—sweet, humorous, smart, caring—I absolutely loved him. A lot of times when I read a player/rake character, I wonder what, outside their stellar looks, a woman could possibly see in them because they tend to be such jerks. Not Ben. I could easily see why women would be lining up for a fling—he’s just so fun and hot and wonderful ... Anna comes across as kind of high maintenance. I liked her but when the book was finished, I felt she still had some growing to do before she became a perfect partner for Ben. That’s a quibble, though, in an otherwise excellent novel. I think fans of the author’s will absolutely love While We Were Dating.
PositiveAll About RomanceSince this is the twelfth book in the series, I give nothing away by saying Bess and company successfully resolve their issues. That’s simply the nature of a long-running series with a beloved cast of characters. What makes this story interesting is less the will-they but the how-do-they ... I really loved the personal dynamics here ... The author does a good job of giving the secondary characters three dimensions, letting us see the complexity of what they’re feeling and why. My only complaint with the story deals with Bess’ love life. She’s been slow in coming to an awareness of who she loves, and he hasn’t exactly been helpful by saying nothing of his own feelings ... The good news is we do move a tiny bit forward in this novel, so that’s something. That flaw aside, fans of the series will find everything they love about the series in evidence in An Irish Hostage. I’m happy to be able to recommend it.
PositiveAll About RomanceMs. Singh does an amazing job of world building. All the intricate little pieces of politics, culture and history that make up this universe are juggled to perfection, serving as an ideal background to the love story ... My one quibble with the tale is that a lot of what we read here is very familiar. The Psy Net has been failing for the last several books and it seems like we are regularly discovering a new designation that is vital to its existence. This book is still great, but the plot feels a tiny bit well worn ... Regardless of that flaw, a wonderful love story and the continuing build-up of the Psy-Changeling world make Last Guard a must read for fans of the series.
RaveAll About Romance... a wonderful, charming tale about the healing power of friendship and how we best learn to stand on our own by first learning to lean on those who love us ... The author does an absolutely stellar job with her ensemble cast, giving us four unique heroines whose stories slowly weave together to create a charming tapestry of life in wartime rural England ... As with any good tale about friendship, the author takes pains to show us how the four are better together than they are as individuals ... Ryan does a fantastic job of inserting her rich historical research naturally into the text. The tension of airplane engines droning overhead, forcing people to wonder if they are enemy or ally and making folks figure out how to distinguish between the two and respond in moments is captured with terrific clarity...qually well handled is the issue of spousal abuse and how few resources were available to women at the time in dealing with it ... The only flaw in this stellar tale is that it is a bit heavy-handed in regards to the happy ending. Everything works out beautifully, with all four women finding their perfect niche in the world. It was exactly what I needed for where I am and I was completely thrilled with the finale, but those who prefer a touch more realism may be frustrated with the saccharine finish ... a completely delightful tale filled with resilient, resourceful heroines, resonant history and hope for hopeless times. For those looking for a way to warm their heart and soul on a cold winter’s day, you can’t do better than this book.
RaveAll About RomanceWritten by a former NFL wife, these fun, flirty, stories sing with authenticity and humor. You don’t have to read the first few books to enjoy this one but you definitely should. Not only does it give you a deeper introduction to some of the secondary characters, they’re such wonderful reads you simply won’t want to miss them ... This is a romance which discusses some heavy subjects but the author’s tremendous skill is put to good use, since in spite of the weighty issues of racism and income disparity which are laced throughout the text, Snapped is light hearted, fun and romantic. I absolutely loved it, found it to be a quick, delightful read and never once felt like the story was lost to the causes being promoted. Ms. Martin does just an absolutely fantastic job of showing how these problems impact her characters in their everyday reality, and are therefore a natural part of Elliot and Quin’s romance.
RaveAll About Romance...this charming story has a lot to offer ... The strengths of this story are the intricate world building, El’s journey of self-discovery and the author’s terrific writing. Ms. Novik has a gift for combining magic and mayhem to deliver a realistic look at human relationships, and for using her tales to examine the importance of having justice and equality in the world ... if you are a fan of YA fantasy or of Ms. Novik, or if you enjoy books set in magical schools, then this is the novel for you.
Rachel Howzell Hall
PositiveAll About Romance... The mystery here has a lot of nice twists and turns ... The author does a nice job with the secondary characters...and the author cleverly uses their personalities to help us form an image of the missing woman ... And Now She’s Gone had a bit of a slow start and a few rather unbelievable elements but it’s an intriguing mystery with an excellent kickass heroine. I would recommend it to any fan of female detective stories.
PositiveAll About RomanceI can give full credit to the research the author did into the horrific accounts of injustice from the past (and present) upon which she bases her fictional but believable tale. I also appreciated Ms. Cole’s careful use of location. By placing her narrative in New York City, she highlights the North’s deep participation in racist practices ... I liked that their relationship is a slow burn. Both of them have dark edges in their history and wounds that need to heal, so it works that while the attraction is instant, the love definitely isn’t ... I liked less that the mystery was also a slow burn. In fact, it was essentially non-existent for the first fifty percent of the book ... The slow start might make it a bit imperfect but the important history and insight into the perspective and emotions of those whose voices have been silenced in our country for far too long more than make up for that.
MixedAll About RomanceThis is a slow burn mystery, with a gothic feel ... The story is told primarily from Odette’s point of view but we also see things from the perspectives of Wyatt and Angel. This gives us a more comprehensive view of the events taking place, allowing the reader to be fully immersed in the narrative. And what I mean by immersion is actually confusion. Angel makes a poor narrator initially, since she tends to be more cryptic than enlightening. That situation isn’t alleviated until at least forty percent into the book ... Odette’s fatigue and the demoralized perplexity she feels regarding Wyatt and Angel lend the text a lethargic, almost sluggish ambience at the start of the book. It isn’t until we reach the halfway mark that the narrative pacing starts to match that of a typical mystery. Since the book is billed as a thriller, I initially struggled with the languorous nature of the prose. Fortunately, the second half of the story, told from Angel’s point of view, picks up speed and provides the missing sense of immediate menace that the first portion lacks. It turned what had been an almost literary style of mystery into a page turner and provided a very satisfying ending. Ms. Heaberlin is an excellent wordsmith who captures perfectly the sense of a town on the edge of implosion, a tired justice warrior, and the expertly drawn cast of disturbing but intriguing supporting characters who make We Are All the Same in the Dark an interesting look at the ominous currents that lie below the surface of any human gathering. I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys small town Southern mysteries.
RaveAll About RomanceBrynn is an absolutely fabulous heroine: strong and independent but with a heart of gold. I loved her sense of humor and her witty yet silly way of saying things, but most of all, I loved how she viewed life. The author gives her unique perspectives on things and I got a kick out of looking at the world from her point of view ... I also loved how the author kept all the characters we’ve loved throughout the series engaged in the story without them being obvious cameos. As friends of both characters, they’re an integral, natural part of the narrative ... Blitzed is a fantastic, lighthearted love story that is sure to please Ms. Martin’s many fans and make her some new ones. I strongly recommend it to contemporary romance fans, especially those who like their romances funny, sexy and sweet.
PositiveAll About RomanceFans of mystery novels will recognize Valerie’s hard-boiled detective persona...The author also does little to paint nuance onto her character or indeed onto any of the characters we are introduced to, except the villain. They all have secrets, some of them fairly large, but they are all pretty straightforward in spite of them and the only twists and turns here occur in the plot ... Even that isn’t very curvy. This is a methodical, detailed police procedural where solid investigating and following hunches lead to a stunning but well set up ending. The dénouement did surprise me, but I could look back and see how the trail inevitably led to this conclusion. I love when the author can make the resolution a revelation but also show you how the clues were pointing in that direction all along and that definitely happened here. I always find that kind of closure deeply satisfying ... for fans of detective fiction Anything for You is satisfying overall. While the story doesn’t transcend genre or push this category of fiction to new limits, it does a decent job of meeting its standards.
PositiveAll About RomanceWhile I had a lot of empathy for the mother who asked Bess to find her son, I felt almost no sympathy for the lieutenant himself. He was surly and difficult, making aiding him almost impossible for both Marina and Bess ... As the killer drew ever closer, I found myself very concerned for everyone’s safety but Lawrence’s. He seemed unwilling, especially at first, to do anything helpful to resolve the issue and was more than happy to have the two women, whose problem it wasn’t, do everything necessary to clear things up on their own. I received the impression, perhaps erroneously, that he lived his life expecting the women in it to deal with whatever difficulties might occur which kept him from enjoying it to the fullest ... Unfortunately Simon, the man whom I am increasingly convinced will be Bess’ future husband, doesn’t make an appearance here ... For those unfamiliar with that era, these little tidbits are fascinating pieces of history ... I wasn’t wowed with the conundrum here, which I felt was driven more by stupidity and incompetence on many people’s part more than anything else, but thanks to the charm of the heroine and the skill of the writers, A Cruel Deception is a solid addition to this series of mysteries. While it lacked the brilliance of last years A Forgotten Place, I would still recommend it to the authors’ legion of fans, and (again) I would recommend the series as a whole to anyone who loves historical mysteries.
R. F. Kuang
PositiveAll About Romance[Kuang] diligently works through all the typical tropes of this category, deftly delivering exactly what I have come to expect from such a book. While that is an absolute positive, it’s also a bit of a negative; because the author is following familiar ground so faithfully, the story feels somewhat predictable ... The whole book is like that, a mix of strong points nudged downward by minor weaknesses ... One aspect that was wholly good was the juxtaposition between science and magic ... Fans will be glad to know we encounter several of Rin’s old school friends during the course of the narrative. The author does an excellent job of updating us on how they fared in the last war and showing the changes that conflict wrought on their personalities ... not without its problems, but it’s still an enjoyable book. If you’re a fan of dark, battle driven tales of magic and mayhem, I would strongly recommend the series to you. The first book is a wonderful military fantasy and the author changing the setting from the typical medieval European one and locating it in a re-imagined ancient China adds a refreshing diversity to this standard trope. While this middle book in the series was not quite as strong as the first, I was satisfied with it and am eagerly anticipating book three.
MixedAll About RomanceFans of droll small town stories will find a lot to love here ... ama G’s illness is depicted extremely well and watching her struggles with it are the most realistic and touching elements of the story ... Sarah, Grace’s best friend and an important inhabitant of Dove Pond, was the most difficult part of the story for me. Her magic seems to be more of a deux ex machina than a real ability, and the citizenry of her community are far too accepting of the Dove’s family special-ness to be anywhere near realistic. I’m a big fan of fantasy, urban fantasy and magical realism, but the magical elements of the tale detract from it rather than add to it. They just aren’t written with any acknowledgment of what life would be like for a person who actually possessed magical abilities. Additionally, Sarah’s interactions with Blake, the town sheriff and her future love interest, are infantile and I lost what little interest I had in her as a character after a particularly painful moment when he was asking her about his role in an important festival she was helping to chair and all she could do was swoon and imagine kissing him while he was trying to get the information he needed ... one of those books written for a very particular audience. For fans of small town stories and women’s fiction tales that concentrate on the heroine’s growth arc it will be a very enjoyable read.
PositiveAll About RomanceKin is the perfect character to serve as the central focus of such a story. He’s a very average man – middle income, not brilliant but just exceptional enough to find himself in some extraordinary circumstances, a good husband, friend and father. His ordinariness makes him very relatable and helps craft a tale with fantastical elements into a book about issues most people can empathize with. The supporting cast is equally well drawn, especially Miranda. Each of her reactions to actions by Kin is typical in the best way; they are written with acknowledgement of standard human emotional responses but they capture the depth, agony and beauty that is everyday life and love. I especially appreciated that there were no villains here: just people trying to do their best in difficult circumstances ... a good read for people who like some heart with their paranormal tales or for people who like heartfelt tales and don’t mind if they are mixed with a bit of the paranormal.
RaveAll About RomanceThe author does an excellent job of blending fantasy, history and reality to create a unique, lushly imagined world which glitters with the opulence of La Belle Époque but shows the shadows in which the dark stain of colonialism cast upon a large portion of the world’s population. The fantasy aspect weaves gently and naturally through this universe, the rich costumes, decadent cuisine and fabulous, lavish parties of the era a perfect fit for the luxurious, often ornate, magic of Forging ... The author has a writing style entirely suited to such work. She paints word pictures which are always sumptuous, gorgeous, and posh. Her characters might face hardship and hatred but they do so in style. This really adds to the enchantment of the work, forging an extra layer of bewitchment to the text ... the first book of a trilogy that promises to be entertaining, engrossing and utterly enjoyable. This is a must read for fantasy fans.
PositiveAll About RomanceMs. Barton is the queen of the slow burn mystery and this book is no exception. The plot doesn’t twist and turn so much as it meanders down a slightly curvy road ... Compelling and addictive, The Suspect slowly sucks the reader in. I think the slow start and the leisurely pace of the beginning might be a turnoff for those looking for an instant thrill, but if you are willing to put in the work, the payoff, in the end, is worth it. The book certainly left me thinking about it long after I put it down.
PositiveAll About RomanceFrom the issue of slavery in American history, represented by the character of Violet, to the vibrant world Charley lives in which includes people of varying ethnicities and sexual orientation, the author paints her little corner of the world as inclusively as possible ... Fans of historical books and dual timeline novels will thoroughly enjoy Bellewether. While the pacing here is slow and occasionally pedantic, the author’s smooth, lyrical prose and amazing ability to recreate life in another time and place make the moments spent within the pages a pleasure. I am happy to recommend this to fans of the author and to encourage anyone interested in a good tale to pick it up.
PositiveAll About RomanceThe plot is delicately intricate, filled with red herrings and laced with themes of bullying, infidelity, abuse, and homophobia. I questioned the inclusion of that last. I think readers might be uncomfortable with the slurs thrown at a particular character and how that person is forced to question their own sexuality ... I think fans of Hoag and fans of grittier police procedural mysteries will thoroughly enjoy The Boy. I certainly found it to be a page turner and was enthralled from beginning to end. My one criticism is that the conclusion was a bit of a let-down and I rolled my eyes some at one of the denouements since I thought it was completely out of character, but that didn’t change the fact that I loved the journey of getting to that moment. So I’m aware the ending might be mildly disappointing to some but would still strongly recommend the story. This is the perfect book for suspense fans to while away a cold afternoon with.
RaveAll About RomanceSpinning Silver is a lush, richly imagined, gloriously magical fantasy novel ... it is everything, EVERYTHING, that a fairy tale for adults should be ... The characters in this novel are amazingly, vibrantly drawn. I loved the way the author is able to capture the reality of an era in which women could be expected to be treated as little more than chattel, and yet create three clever, talented young ladies ... The writing is beautiful, lyrical, incandescent. It reads like a fairy story and but one with real depth, carefully crafted and heartrendingly poignant and lovely ... a brilliant, creative idea perfectly executed.
RaveAll About RomanceMehr is a near perfect heroine ... It is always wonderful to read a story spun from a culture other than the typical Western European one. Empire of Sand, with its colonial narrative showing an abused, subjugated minority exploited and despised by those in power, is especially meaningful because it is a tale that speaks to the conversations of our own time and place. Beautifully written, this thought-provoking heartfelt love story is the perfect book for fantasy/fantasy romance fans.
RaveAll About Romance\"One thing the author gets all kinds of kudos for is the best depiction of an alpha female/beta male pairing I have ever seen in romance. EVER ... The characters, therefore, are perfect not in the sense that they don’t have flaws but that the author skillfully uses even those flaws to move her plot along and endear her creations to the reader ... Funny, warm and romantic The Proposal is a fantastic, not to be missed romance. I recommend it to anyone who loves – or even just likes – contemporary romance novels.\
PositiveAll About RomanceIt’s safe to say it is one of the most anticipated publications of the year. I was anxious to see if the story lived up to all the hype and, for the most part, it did ... The tale works very well as a coming of age story in that it highlights how, regardless of one’s station in life, young adulthood is always a difficult period full of painful discoveries ... Easily the greatest strength of the story is its rich look at Ghanaian culture. The author conveys the beauty, frustration and difficult aspects of the land as a beautiful mosaic in the background of the novel, showcasing how we are the same on the inside the world over even as our external life experiences are vastly different ... House Girl tackles some tough issues, so it is not always an easy read. It is an insightful one.
RaveAll About Romance\"I love a good meet cute/meet crazy and Alyssa Cole offers up a delectable new favorite in her latest novel, A Duke by Default. Funny, poignant and sweet this is a truly fantastic summer read ... I also loved that the tale had several laugh out loud moments. It’s a light, comedic romp that has lots of heart, which made it a pleasure to pick up and read through. The story has some moments which may make you roll your eyes at the silliness in regard to the dukedom plotline, but A Duke by Default is such a wonderful, whimsical, tale that even sticklers for accuracy will be able to overlook that flaw. I highly recommend you put this book at the top of your summer reading pile.\
Ingrid Rojas Contreras
RaveAll About RomanceA rich girl, poor girl account of late twentieth century Colombia, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a staggering emotional journey through the destruction of life in a time of war. It will give you a new perspective on why some people risk it all to come to America ... For those living in that turbulent era, there were no good options. Wealth delayed the inevitable; it didn’t circumvent it. You were either the kidnapped or the kidnapper, killer or prey. Neutral parties got blown up in car bombs or shot in crossfire. It makes for a very thought provoking read, if not a very easy one.
RaveAll About RomanceThe symbiosis of the characters, culture and city in [What We Were Promised] is masterfully handled ... a character-driven tale which reflects the heart and soul of a nation going through great changes. It’s a beautifully written, evocative and provocative narrative which shows that human nature is the same the world over, even when our lives look superficially different.
MixedAll About RomanceThe mystery is handled well. It’s a typical Harlequin suspense plot, which means it’s low on reality, but the author does a good job of keeping it in the background while her romance shines in the foreground ... The author occasionally lapses into info-dumps and stilted dialogue which is likely to pull the reader out of the story. And while I know it is virtually a rule of romance fiction featuring military men to include cute nicknames, David’s moniker of Flipper just about drove me nuts ... I smiled a lot while reading An Honorable Seduction. It’s a light, primarily happy book that tells the love story of a sweet, charming young couple. It’s a great beach read or nice way to while away a sunny spring afternoon.
PositiveAll About RomanceMichelle Sacks delivers a chilling, disturbing thriller with [You Were Mde for This] ... If the goal of a psychological suspense novel is shock and awe, Ms. Sacks certainly achieves her objective... However, the fact that the characters are so deeply embedded in their depravity gives the novel an otherworldly feel that almost deprives it of some of its power. Less would have been more in this case. A bit of good mixed in with the bad would have lent some much-needed light to the darkness. That said, this is a powerful debut for those who have the courage to take it on.
RaveAll About RomanceBury What We Cannot Take is evocative, engrossing, beautiful, frightening and illuminating. The only flaws I could find are that it was also a bit unbelievable and that it scratches only the surface of issues and characters that could have used a fuller exploration. That said, I would still recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good read. It packs a powerful punch into a relatively small package.\
PositiveAll About RomanceA tale of a missing girl, a mother’s shattered life and the gradual rebuilding of a family, this twisting, turning mystery will have you reading into the wee hours of the morning ... The author does an excellent job of getting the reader invested in the characters ... Then She Was Gone is a near perfect novel of suspense.
MixedAll About RomanceI also didn’t like the personal issues the women were dealing with. Each of these threads should have been snipped several books ago and having them drag into the present storyline was more than a little irritating ... Fortunately, the book has some strong points. Gerritsen is a good writer whose prose paints clear pictures of the events within the novel. While the story isn’t ripped from the headlines it is a timely, relevant and thoughtful tale.