Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blameless by Gail Carriger

(The Parasol Protectorate Book #3)
by Gail Carriger

Genre:  Paranormal Romance | Fantasy | Historical

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season. Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead. While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

Finding herself pregnant, without a husband by her side (Lord Maccon), without a  loyal friend near by (Lord Akeldama), and stuck within her horrendous family home again with the whole society of London ruthlessly gossiping behind her back ... Alexia almost welcomes the international adventure that occurs during Blameless.  She's on a mission to discovery the secret the vampire cults are keeping in regards to her "infant-inconvenience" destiny, while dodging death treats, imprisonment, and unexpected surprises.

If you read the series, you know they're a nice change from almost everything else out there.  Very Victorian, very scientific, and very high-brow.  Yet, it was almost too much for my taste this time.  I wanted more romance and got robotic lady bugs.  Not enough comical relief and too much Madame Lefoux.  I'm not a fan of MANY of the side characters throughout this series, thus if I get an overload of them ... I don't enjoy the story overall.  Thus, that was the problem with Blameless for me.  I couldn't connect with Alexia anywhere throughout the tale and felt the whole book was written as a rat race without a finish line.  When the ending finally does arrive, it's like BAM only four ages left.  Whaaaat?  I didn't know if I wanted more or to just be happy it was over.  Sad, but true!

Likes:  Alexia making deals with her "infant-inconvenience" to become more motherly.

Dislikes:  Lord Maccon's stubbornness didn't make him a very likable character.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Highland Outlaw by Monica McCarty

Highland Outlaw  
(The Campbell Trilogy Book #2)
by Monica McCarty

Genre: Historical Romance

Patrick MacGregor is a hunted man living on the edge. With his land stolen and clan outlawed, Patrick and his MacGregor clansmen have been forced into hiding—blame for which Patrick puts squarely on the shoulders of the hated Campbells. Patrick will stop at nothing to save his clan from destruction, and marriage to Elizabeth Campbell, whose quiet beauty he’d admired from afar, just might be the answer. Arranging an attack seems to be the perfect means to win the trust of the protected lass, but soon Patrick realizes that it isn’t just his life at stake if she discovers the truth of his identity, but something he’d thought lost long ago—his heart.
Elizabeth Campbell has never done anything reckless in her life. Shy and dutiful, Lizzie has always tried to do the right thing—even suffering through the humiliation of two broken engagements without complaint. But behind the serious fa├žade is a passionate woman fighting to get out. So when a handsome mysterious warrior rescues her from an attack, Lizzie boldly asks him to stay. Seduced by his kiss and mesmerized by the edge of danger that surrounds him, Lizzie succumbs to the promise beckoning from behind his shadowed gaze, believing she’s found the perfect man. But soon Lizzie wonders whether in risking her heart, she’s lost everything.

Elizabeth Campbell, who has always secretly dreamed of having a large family, hasn't had the best of luck with her arranged marriages and unfortunately, her last one damaged her more than she would have liked.  Patrick MacGregor, the chief of his broken clan, is struggling to reclaim what his family had fatally stolen away.  Yet, Patrick is now falling for the enemy while working on a plan to gain lost property by hiding his true identity.  When all is revealed, will both Elizabeth and Patrick find something they've both been desiring?

I find I'm reading this series backwards and I'm loving it.  Book #3 was a nice surprise and Book #2 was even better!!! I loved how vulnerable Elizabeth came off.  She's emotionally hurt, yet remains strong in character for her family.  When she was betrayed by her third betrothed, Patrick (while on a secret mission of his own) was the only one to come to her rescue.  Years later, he does that again and he really only wants what is best for Lizzie, even if that goes against his clans wishes.  Patrick also shares the vulnerability characteristic since he has had a damaged past.  While known family enemies, both blend perfectly together. 

I love my male protagonists nice and hunky, but adding a little weakness really makes me smile.  I enjoyed how Patrick doubted his actions while "courting" Elizabeth and how they both shared the knowledge that they were going against their families by being together in the end.  It was a nice Romeo and Juliet twist, but each character was strong enough to carry the tale quite nicely.  I found no flaws in the side characters, the all over concept flowed wonderfully, the story kept me entertained till the end, and I loved the history thrown in as well.  I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical romances. Bring on Book #1.

Likes:  I liked how Elizabeth wasn't a sensitive virgin, something very rare in traditional historical romances.

Dislikes:  Nothing comes to mind.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole story!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict
(Austen Addict Book # 2)
by Laurie Viera Rigler

Genre: Time-Travel | Contemporary Romance

Received book from Crazy Book Tours

Jane Mansfield has long wished to escape the confines of life as a gentleman's daughter in 1813 England.  But awakening in the urban madness of twenty-first-century L.A. - in the body of Courtney Stone - is not what she has in mind.  With no knowledge of Courtney's life, let alone her world, Jane is in over her head.  What is Jane to make of carriages that run without horses, lights that glow without candles, and people who talk to the air while holding a small object against their ears?  Granted, she does enjoy the shiny glass box in which tiny people act out her favorite book, Price and Prejudice.  And she savors her first taste of privacy, independence, even the chance to earn her own money.  Bot when Courtney's romantic entanglements become her own, Jane realizes that the machines of the twenty-first-century are much easier to master than its rules of love.  Can a girl from Regency England survive in a world in which flirting and kissing and even the sexual act raise no matrimonial expectations?

This second Austen Addict book continues with the flip story of Jane and Courtney: Book #1 followed Courtney's new life as Jane in 1813 England and, this one, Book #2 now follows Jane's new life as Courtney in 2009 America.  The concept of these books is simple . . . imagine waking up in the life of another. Yet, the twist is, this new life isn't in a time or place you're familiar with or even accustomed to.  Thus, Jane trades her life of a well established family, close friends, dependable servants, stable home, prearranged future for one of a single modern lady with emotional baggage in a new world of free will "with inflexible lines between different spheres of society" (pg 215); where she must now find her own way and make her own choices. 

Having already enjoyed Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, I was prepared for the comical ciaos that ensues after Jane wakes up in her new life.  Unlike Jane, who suffers a horrible fall off her horse Belle, our modern Courtney fatally knocks her head on the bottom of a swimming pool; easily convincing those surrounding her that she's suffering from amnesia.  Now Jane not only has to learn the strange futuristic ins and outs from her friends, but she also has to hide her on-going awe of her new modern surroundings while immersing herself in electronics and L.A.'s culture.  I found myself enjoying seeing the world through Jane's eyes.  Expect a lot of detailed descriptions since the names of modern devices doesn't quickly come to Jane, so it became almost a game in guessing just what she would discover next.  Unfortunately, it could be a little too descriptive at times, but never too annoying to throw off continuing with the story.  

I also enjoyed the many personal lessons Jane learned during her awakening as Courtney. From everyone deserving a second chance in life to decreasing some of her previous airs/essence of arrogance by questioning if earning an honest labor was undignified for herself.  Jane really comes out of her protected Regency-style shell throughout Rude Awakenings and does A LOT of internal debate about herself and what good, if any, she's doing in the future world.  "Why did I have to inherit such a disordered life?" (pg 170)  was a thought Jane kept going back to, but  eventually she learns the past has little consequence on her future choices and she decides to focus on the present and enjoy/accept her helpful friends, all the clever twenty-first-century devices, and her splendid book collection.

I'm still undecided as to which book out of the two was my favorite, since each was highly enjoyable and had its funny moments, but I feel Rude Awakenings was a little more well rounded overall.  Yet, after finishing both, I felt a little sorry for the main characters since if you step back from the story itself, Jane/Courtney was never really happy with their own lives and they needed to be placed in another existence to fully develop a different point of view and acceptance.  So, they never really solved their own situations, just worked on someone else troubles by walking in a different pair of shoes.  Must be nice to escape all together, but would it be worth giving up everything you've ever known for a different life?  These ladies were given that chance, but in the end, they were stuck with it as well.  Sure the book claims "there is nothing nobler than to give up one's life in service for another" (pg 108) but  switching bodies is a high price to pay.  I'm glad our ladies ended up happy, but Jane also come off as  truly alone and always withholding secrets from those close to her throughout much of the book as well.

All in all, if you're looking for a funny romantic book that will make you smile, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict will satisfy your desire.  Enjoy!

Likes:  All the characters throughout the story were very believable and easy to like, especially Wes.

Dislikes:  The description of modern devices by Jane got a little out of control and tedious at times.