Tag: romance


Review – The Master Magician

Posted 13 March, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Master Magician by Charlie N HolmbergThe Master Magician, Charlie N. Holmberg

The Master Magician makes a good end to the series, bringing Ceony to the end of her apprenticeship, and her relationship with Emery to a satisfying point. If you found everything a bit too fluffy and light, and Ceony’s abilities a bit too good to be true, then this book will probably tier up with that — she’s now able to do pretty much anything she wants, and does, having mastered all other kinds of magic in the meantime.

I don’t think it was the best written trilogy ever, but I enjoyed it, particularly when I wanted something pretty easy and fast to read. There are some horrific bits (i.e. when Ceony faces psychopathic magicians), but for the most part… yeah, just a really easy read.

Rating: 3/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – An Unnatural Vice

Posted 12 March, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Unnatural Vice by K.J. CharlesAn Unnatural Vice, K.J. Charles

This is probably my least favourite of the trilogy, though it’s partly down to personal taste: I didn’t enjoy the characters or their dynamic as much. Nathaniel is pretty awesome in his unthinking protectiveness and willingness to help others, but Justin mostly just ticked me off. He does have some redeeming features (particularly his relationship with the kids he looks after), but I still didn’t quite get that relationship.

It’s useful for piecing together the full story begun in An Unseen Attraction (or An Unsuitable Heir if you started with that, like I did!) but it’s not necessary, and personally, I wouldn’t have minded giving it a miss. It’s not a bad story, and there certainly is intensity between the main couple, but they just weren’t the type of characters I really root for.

Rating: 3/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Review – Camelot’s Blood

Posted 26 February, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Camelot's Blood by Sarah ZettelCamelot’s Blood, Sarah Zettel

When I first read this series, I mostly dismissed it as romance — back when I felt pretty dismissive of romance in general, I’ll admit. Reading it now, I’ve been impressed all over again by the work Zettel did to bring together different Arthurian threads and weave them all into a cohesive story. Reading the end of this book, I kind of want to read her version of how the story plays out.

On the other, I really don’t, because this is a good ending to the story of the four brothers from Gododdin, which lets you imagine they stay happy. And maybe they could, in this version… after all, who could stand against Rhian, Elen, Lynet and Laurel? Forget the men: they’re really the stars of these stories.

In terms of this book alone, I adore how Zettel humanises Agravain, after the rather unflattering portrait of him we get in the other books (apart from the odd moment where his concern and love for his brothers really shows through). And I love the insight on how Arthur and Gawain are both devoted to their whole kingdom, while Agravain only cares about his own land — and that’s why he makes a good king of it.

All in all, a worthwhile series, though if you’re not a fan of romance you probably won’t enjoy them as that is the main thread.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Review – An Unseen Attraction

Posted 16 February, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of An Unseen Attraction by K.J. CharlesAn Unseen Attraction, K.J. Charles

I read the last book in this series first, but it doesn’t matter too much, because they’re linked but don’t follow the exact same characters. This book features Clem and Rowley, and it’s a delight: Clem’s obvious ADHD and the way he and Rowley work with that in their relationship, and also the way that the sex scenes are not just “insert tab A into slot B”, but have feeling and thought behind them and don’t feel mechanistic at all. I’m not interested in the tab A/slot B type, but when it deepens characters’ relationships, and especially when it isn’t a mechanical write-by-numbers scene, it can still be worth reading — and such is the case here. I remember the same being true of An Unsuitable Heir.

It’s an enjoyable romance on its own, and the mystery adds a little, but I do think you might need to read all three books to really find the mystery satisfying. I need to read the middle book, and I’m honestly curious about how those two characters meet and get along, because from their appearances in this book and the third… nope!

If you’re not a fan of m/m romance at all, this won’t be for you, but if you’re looking for something in that genre which is thoughtful with rich characters, this should qualify admirably.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Review – Heroine Complex

Posted 9 January, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 6 Comments

Cover of Heroine Complex by Sarah KuhnHeroine Complex, Sarah Kuhn

I got this to review at some point, but I also bought a copy… a fact which I now regret. Okay, there’s a lot of cool things about it: female Asian protagonists who kick ass in different ways, a casually queer character, bitey flying cupcakes, the main character talks frankly about anxiety… And for quite a while I was enjoying it a lot.

It’s just, I don’t like reading books where people like me are called dead inside, even in jest. I’m sure the main character isn’t intended to be read as asexual — it’s mostly that she’s forced herself not to feel in order to control her powers (let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore…) — but the lack of sexual attraction to people she describes is my every day and whole life. And I’m okay with that; it doesn’t bother me or my partner, and I don’t think I’m broken because of it (anymore). It’s just the way I’m made.

It’s not my “Dead-Inside-O-Tron”.

Yes, that’s what Evie calls her lack of sexual attraction — her “Dead-Inside-O-Tron”. Neatly calls up two stereotypes about people who aren’t interested in sex: that we’re robots, and that we’re dead inside. And before you protest that nobody says that, I saw it twice on my twitter the day I was reading this book.

I kept going for a while with the book, but when I put it down to go out and came back, I found that I was just tired of it. Tired of the romance scenes punctuated by Evie wondering why her “Dead-Inside-O-Tron” had stopped working. I can get a person feeling that way and calling it that; I can understand that it’s not targeted to hurt people like me by reiterating the whole “you’re dead inside” meme. It doesn’t mean I can keep enjoying the book.

Reader, I put it down. I have plenty of books to read that don’t remind me constantly that people think I’m a dead-inside robot.

The flying bitey cupcakes are still a cool image, though.

Rating: 2/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – Carry On

Posted 7 January, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On, Rainbow Rowell

When I was feeling a bit rough, Carry On felt like an excellent choice for some light reading. It’s all the joy of fanfic — willing characters to get together, enjoying the riffs on the canon (in this case, Harry Potter), enjoying the commentary on the genre — with the inventiveness of original fiction as well; it’s not a copy of Harry Potter, and there are some rather clever things going on with the language, the relationships, the inner thoughts of some of the characters. Agatha is a great commentary on the Chosen One’s destined girlfriend; she opts out and goes away and we’re rather glad for her, without that icky feeling prominent in a certain subset of fanfic where the gay couple are glorified above all else and the straight love interest is vilified just for existing. Agatha has a point.

Penelope is great fun, too; she’s like a combination of the best bits of both Ron and Hermione, with more of a sense of humour than either.

And Baz. I never got what people saw in Draco Malfoy as a character, but Baz is great — his ambivalence about Simon, his difficulties in coming to terms with the way things actually are (because of course, he doesn’t fit the traditional story any more than Agatha or Simon do). It’s like the characters are all framed by this traditional hero’s journey narrative, and they rebel and burst out of it in all directions while the adults around them try to keep things on course (especially the Mage, but also Baz’s father and aunt, to some extent).

There’s little of the pure evil type of thing going on here, no Voldemort who can be unequivocally hated. Everyone means well. There are blinded revolutionaries and turn-a-blind-eye aristocracy, and if they could only meet in the middle things would be better, but it’s not about fundamentally bad people, a fundamentally wrong cause.

Simon and Baz together is just… it’s very much of a piece with Harry/Draco fanfic (which I never read, but was aware of), but it makes the two characters really fit, and their relationship seem inevitable.

So yes. I enjoyed it. Again.

Rating: 5/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , , , ,

Divider

Review – Winterwood

Posted 4 January, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Winterwood by Dorothy EdenWinterwood, Dorothy Eden

Winterwood is a Gothic-ish mystery/romance, very much in the vein of Mary Stewart’s work. I think it rather reminded me of her Nine Coaches Waiting — though of course, I don’t actually read these books for originality. I wasn’t sure if I could root for the pairing, given that the main male character is married at the beginning and certainly affectionate and respectful with his wife, but it worked out fairly well with both halves of the potential romance keeping in mind the barrier between them. The characters are reasonably likeable — Flora is spoilt and willful, but also generous and capable of great affection, which redeemed her somewhat for me. Charlotte, Daniel’s wife, is obviously troubled and at times is rather transparently wicked, but there are also moments where Eden manages to get across some of the pathos of her character. Daniel is a little bland, though.

If you don’t expect too much of it, it’s a nice distraction. Eden’s writing isn’t bad, though she can’t quite evoke a sense of place the way Mary Stewart can — I didn’t ‘feel’ Winterwood the estate very much.

Rating: 3/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – Camelot’s Sword

Posted 2 December, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Camelot's Sword, by Sarah ZettelCamelot’s Sword, Sarah Zettel

Camelot’s Sword isn’t my favourite book of the series, because the characters are definitely not my favourite and I think the way they eventually get together is a little too rushed. However, the way Zettel plays with the Arthurian mythos continues to be delightful, from her portrayal of Guinevere to the machinations of Morgaine to Kay’s surprising skill with a sword. Geez, I even love the fact that he’s actually ridiculously tall, because that’s a call-out to the Welsh versions where he was ‘as tall as the tallest tree in the forest’. (My MA dissertation was named after that descriptor, and referenced these books heavily. I think the final title was ‘As Tall as the Tallest Tree in the Forest: The Long Shadow of the Celtic Cai in the Ongoing Arthurian Tradition’ or something like that. Okay, I got the feedback that the title didn’t sound relevant, but I still like it.)

Even though this isn’t my favourite of the series, it has a lot of great moments and character set-pieces, from Kay’s interactions with Gareth to Agravain’s confrontation with Lancelot. Zettel does wonderfully at making me love and care for them all. I might not be convinced Gareth deserves Lynet, but by heck I am convinced he means to do his best by her — and that his brothers will grumble, shout at him, and back him up all the way.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Review – Friday’s Child

Posted 24 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Friday's Child by Georgette HeyerFriday’s Child, Georgette Heyer

If you’ve read a couple of Heyer’s books, you know what to expect. You recognise the character types as they appear — the charmingly innocent heroine, the dishonourable but charming villain, the various prototypes for her heroes… Friday’s Child is of the “marriage of convenience” school, in which Lord Sheringham marries a childhood friend, Hero, more or less on a whim to spite his family. She’s loved him all along, of course, while he is monumentally unaware of having any feelings towards any woman, and certainly doesn’t expect to love his wife (though being a noble Heyer male, he will of course do his duty toward her).

As ever, it’s the detail and Heyer’s wit that carry a story that could be formulaic. I both laughed and cried at Friday’s Child, I’ll confess, sometimes at more or less the same scene. Sherry’s friends and their loyalty to him and to Hero are both funny and endearing, pretty much all the time; there’s something very pathetic about Hero’s adoration of Sherry, and the way he treats her (being angry with her for behaving exactly as he’s told her is right), which is funny in some scenes and just terribly sad in others. I forget which friend of mine has noted that Heyer is one of the few writers who can make a rather silly character one you sympathise with and root for, when you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to stand them at all. This is definitely true with pretty much all the characters here.

Ultimately, it’s not a deep novel of great philosophical worth, and it’s not the best of Heyer’s work in terms of originality or flair either. But it’s fun and it made me happy.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Review – The Chocolatier’s Wife

Posted 13 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Chocolatier's Wife by Cindy Lynn SpeerThe Chocolatier’s Wife, Cindy Lynn Speer

This is a romance set in a fantasy world, with a bit of mystery as well, so if any of those things fail to appeal, you probably won’t get on with it. I found it delightful, though: the world isn’t incredibly rich or anything, but there’s enough there to give a solid background to the story and prevent it feeling paper-thin. The romance is sweet, and the characters are enjoyable: the way they deal with their situation right from the start, the way they write to each other, the way they take care of one another.

There are a few instances of stupid misunderstandings which mostly just serve to drag out the tension, which is a little annoying — my least favourite trope or way of spinning out a story ever. Still, it wasn’t too painful, and the way they worked out their issues and actually communicated actually kinda made up for it.

I’m definitely planning to read more of Speer’s work in future.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider