Review of The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick

Synopsis (from Amazon):
An illegal border crossing. A fake marriage. A mad German count determined to create an army of unbreakable soldiers.

Lady Olivia is not all she seems. Trained for marriage to an assigned political target, her skills lie in programming household steambots to serve tea, dress her hair… and sound the alarm while she picks locks and listens at doors. Humiliated by a failed assignment, she decides to redeem herself by tailing a suspected double agent.

Lord Rathsburn must flirt with treason. Struggles to cure a horrible disease have met with unexpected complications. The cells he engineered can make a man’s bones unbreakable, but the side effects are fatal. He believed the research terminated… until his sister was kidnapped by a German count. Her ransom? A cure.

Piloting a stolen dirigible, he uncovers an unlikely stowaway, Lady Olivia. Arriving together at a crumbling castle, an impossible task is set before them: cure the count’s guardsmen. Amidst their fake marriage, a very real growing attraction, dying guardsmen and escalating hostilities, Lady Olivia and Lord Rathsburn are thrust deep into the world of international medical espionage from which there may be no return.

Review:
In the beginning I was quite sad because I expected that the Elemental Web Chronicles would continue on with Thornton and Amanda, and that they would continue solving crimes and working for the Queen. Once I got over that and gave Olivia a chance, I came to find the story quite amusing and enjoyed it.

Although I understand that Olivia’s abilities and intelligence were supposed to be suspect in The Golden Spider, I found it hard to believe the complete change in mentality that her mother was now shown/said to have. Although some characteristics of Olivia’s remained the same, the difference in her in this compared to how she was in The Golden Spider was at times hard to fathom. Treating this like a completely different novel, not necessarily one that should have flowed from one book to the next, made the changes easier to accept.

I quite liked Lord Rathsburn. He was gruff and not the greatest at dealing with people, much like the scientists I know. His familial loyalty was endearing, as was his sense of honour.

I did enjoy this novel quite a bit, though not as much as The Golden Spider.

Star Rating: 

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Review of The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A stolen clockwork spider. A forbidden romance. A murderous spy on the streets of London who must be stopped before it’s too late.

Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed.
After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention-a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves?

Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed.
Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful-and brilliant-new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury.

Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder.
Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.

Review:
Why did I wait so long to read this book? It was absolutely wonderful! There was everything one could want in a steampunk/gaslamp style novel: there was a plucky and intelligent protagonist who wasn’t willing to just take what society deemed acceptable as her future, a brooding intelligent gentleman, mystery, and forbidden romance!

Amanda was instantly connected to me (perhaps due to us having the same first name, Amy being a short form used for publishing). She is so intelligent but also a society lady, so her struggle to find someone who didn’t just see her as a baby maker was both realistic and frustrating, making her quite relatable. Thornton was equally relatable in his desire to get things done, done right, and even if it killed him to do it himself, he’d be sure it was finished.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I loved it, especially the ending!

Star Rating: 

Review of The Princess, the Pea, and the Night of Passion by Rosetta Bloom

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Getting to happily ever after has never been so sexy or so much fun. Passions run high in this retelling of the classic fairy tale The Princess & the Pea.

In this grown-up version of the famous fairy tale, Arabian princess Adara is running from her old life and a forced betrothal. Adara, an exotic beauty, wants love and passion, but knows she can’t get that back home. When a raging storm halts her escape, Adara seeks refuge in the first dwelling she sees.

Prince Richard is tired of the trite, vain, frigid princesses his mother introduces him to in hopes he’ll marry. On this stormy night, the blue-eyed prince is in the mood to love a woman, but he’s all alone.

Adara arrives on the castle doorstep, saying she’s a princess in need of help. The queen is doubtful and decides to lock Adara in a room with a pea to determine if the girl is as royal as she claims. Richard believes the beautiful, charming stranger, but he wants her locked in a bedroom for other reasons.

When Richard and Adara hook up, there’s more than a pea-sized bit of passion involved….

(This is an adult fairy tale; steamy romance included.)

Review:
This wasn’t steamy, it was just somewhat bad. The prince has an overly sexual mindset and that’s all he thinks about. If this had been written by a male that might be more acceptable, but there was very little spark in my mind, and overall, sex sex sex. Not a fan, won’t read this author again.

Honestly, had the fairy tale focused more on the different cultures and a relationship BEYOND sex between Adara and Richard, it would have been a far different and much more enjoyable read.

Star Rating: 

Review of Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold by Demelza Carlton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

Review:
I loved this take on Beauty and the Beast. The premise was unique and refreshing. I did have some issues with the heroine’s name, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I quite liked Zuleika’s growth and humility throughout the novel, as well as Vardan’s, however, instead of speaking and troubleshooting feelings and emotions verbally, Vardan brushes off Zuleika’s issues and essentially says “It’ll be great because I’m great.”

Unlike most versions of the story, Zuleika knows from the beginning that Vardan is cursed, so instead of being railroaded to liking him and spending time with him by his servants, she understands and wants to help. What irritated me was how long it took Zuleika to realize what had happened to Vardan, considering how intelligent and knowing in magic she is supposed to be by the time she meets him.

Most Amazon reviews seem to have a problem with the sexual mindset of the male protagonist, as well as the sexual parts of the story. I had downloaded this book knowing it was a fairy tale retelling, and that it had been on my list of ones I wanted to eventually read, picking it at random to read from the titles on my kindle. While it is a fairy tale retelling, it likely should be listed under romance first. Though not as carnal as Lidya Foxglove’s Fairy Tale Heat, with only a few instances, there is still a sexual mindset that if one isn’t expecting, might be found irritating.

**WARNING** BOOK BEGINS WITH GRAPHIC (SEXUAL) VIOLENCE

Star Rating: 

Review of The Wisdom of Madness by C. J. Archer

Synopsis (from Amazon):
With Alice determined to discover the truth about her past, and Seth determined to help her, the couple find themselves sucked into a world where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. On the run to escape a mad queen’s wrath, and with an entire realm looking for them, tensions fray and friendships are tested.

Even worse for Seth, shocking secrets he’d rather leave buried are brought to the surface.

Joined on their adventure by an irritable Gus and a mysterious Eva, the four friends must learn the truth of Alice’s past so she can forge her future.

But a future with whom? And where?

Review:
I was wrong about what would happen with Alice! How frustrating! I would like another book (or series) to wrap up everyone’s lives… okay, I just never want to leave this series and want it to go on forever.

Charlie and Lincoln are not truly present in this book, and are more like the side characters that most of the our others have been throughout the series, however, I didn’t find that detracted from the story at all. I ended up liking Eva more than I did before.  Alice really grew as a person, instead of being a shy wallflower, she did what she believed right to keep everyone safe. Eva was very similar, instead of sitting back and keeping quiet, had to learn to use her voice and all of her hard learned knowledge to help those she cares about.

All in all, this book series is my current favourite in its genre, with my only other most favourite series being Harry Potter.

Star Rating: 

Review of Taming the Wild Captain by Gemma Blackwood

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Most girls have only one objective on their first Season in London: to land a wealthy husband. Alice Sharp is no different – until a mysterious theft threatens to ruin a dear friend. The investigation leads Alice deep into London’s underbelly. But how is a young, unmarried woman in 1820 to catch a criminal?

Fate sends Alice a guide to London’s darkness in the form of Richard Kirby. A Captain of the militia, a prolific gambler, an established flirt and a notorious rogue, he is happy to while away his leave in the clubs and gaming hells of London.

There is nothing that should bring them together…except the magnetic power of the attraction neither Alice nor Kirby can deny.

Can Kirby help Alice catch her thief? Will Alice lead Kirby into Society’s good graces? Should a beautiful young debutante ever accept the hand of a wild Captain?

Alice must take matters into her own hands to find the answers…

Review:
Alice is both a well trained lady, but willing to do what it takes to help her friends, and learn more truths than what she was ever aware of within her family. She’s relatable, spunky, and one cannot help but see how frustrating it is for her to not be allowed to do what she feels needs to be done. Kirby, but experience, age, and sex, is far more capable of traversing the world, and finding himself realizing that there could be more to life than using your wits to overcome people. I quite enjoyed the mysterious twist, and how it was resolved.

Star Rating: 

Review of A Cinderella for the Duke by Abby Ayles

Synopsis (from Amazon):
…It’s time to act based on her heart…

Lady Louisa Frasier is in a sad situation. With her brother, the Earl of Gilchrist, gone to America with his wife, and her best friend, the Duchess of Wintercrest, taking care of her own young children far up north, Louisa seems to have no friends to keep her company.

It is when her mother, the dowager countess, suggests a visit to her aunt in the lake district that prospects seem to look up for Lady Louisa. The Dowager Countess and her sister have not been on the best of terms, and Lady Louisa’s single goal is to mend the broken bond.

Arriving in their quaint country town, Lady Louisa soon learns that her aunt, Lady Hendrickson, has no desire to regain any family connection and instead seizes the opportunity to use Lady Louisa until she can take no more.

Henry Vaughan, the Duke of Rowland, has reluctantly returned to his country seat. Upon his Uncle’s most insistent request he is to acquire a wife before he may return to the life he has enjoyed.

Undoubtedly this will be an easy task as he has no preference as to whom the woman shall be, and plenty of distant country ladies will happily flock at the opportunity to be a Duchess.

The Duke’s indifference changes in an instant when a chance meeting with a masked mystery woman at his own private masquerade fills his every waking moment. Who was that enchantress? Why has she hidden herself despite his desperate attempts to find her?

Lady Louisa has no intention of telling the Duke that she was the one he met that fateful night. Her aunt is wholly set on snagging the Duke for her oldest daughter. Despite her growing attraction to the Duke of Rowland and the fact that this could quite possibly be her only chance at finding true love, she must keep her promise to make peace with her aunt’s family.

Will the Duke ever find his mystery lady in green?

Will Lady Louisa find her own strength to stand up for herself and find her own path to walk in life?

Review:
Louisa is a kind, considerate woman who wants nothing more than to help. She isn’t looking to find a match, or do anything more than mend the relationship between her mother and her aunt. Unfortunately, her aunt takes advantage of her, and still, Louisa goes on to make a friend of one of her cousins, learns about plants, and helps the community.

When told that she cannot attend a masquerade, she decides then and there that she shall go and enjoy herself. While she does meet and truly start to care for the Duke, she knows she cannot do anything about it for fear of what her aunt might do to make not only she, but the cousin she is friends with miserable. She is self sacrificing, and it is her kindness, but also her intelligence, that make her an enjoyable protagonist to read and explore life with.

Star Rating: