Review of The Rose and the Mask by Victoria Leybourne

The Rose and the Mask
Fairy Tale Masquerades 1
By Victoria Leybourne

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 340

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
A thieving beauty. A glass rose. A monstrous curse. Among the glittering masks of Venice, is anything quite what it seems?

Faustina is a beauty and a thief, not necessarily in that order. She doesn’t believe in magic, just luck, and hers has run out. The last thing she needs is to get roped into a ridiculous revenge plot by her brother—especially when that brother is Giacomo Casanova, Venice’s most notorious libertine.

Benedetto Bellini has never been particularly lucky. The fact that he’s under a beastly curse proves that. Now he’s got a second problem, one that’s washed up on his island in its undergarments and attempted to steal his silverware. He finds Faustina intriguing and infuriating in equal measure. And, thanks to the curse, he’s stuck with her.

Review:
The name “Faustina” can’t possibly be by chance. That was the first thing I thought of when reading. Foreshadowing? Perhaps.

Now, I love the absolute beginning of the novel. It’s so deep, such an amazing connection, and… unfortunately, it seems lost in the background for the majority of the book.

What I do enjoy is that Faustina is not the type of girl to just do something because she’s told, or to follow the heeding of any man. While she might nod and smile, she has purpose to keep herself safe. Benedetto, unfortunately, seems to be far closer to someone who has always been a hermit. He lacks confidence and it’s rather unbecoming.

The setting and addition of Casanova were interesting. The take on the rose was two fold and I thought well done. Wasn’t particularly pleased with the Deus ex Machina at the ed, but perhaps it was in part because I had already thought it might be the case before it was revealed. I feel that this story was different enough from the original that it really could make a niche of its own without using the Beauty and the Beast theme.

I would read another novel by the same author.

 

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Victoria Leybourne is an author, blogger and tea-drinker who was born in England but grew up on the internet. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her vigorously making excuses for not writing while watching animated movies, belting out showtunes and/or attempting to pet every cat within a three-mile radius.

You can learn more than you are likely to want to know about Victoria by visiting her blog, oppositeofpopular.com, where she exaggerates for comic effect and hopes one day to amass a small following of regular readers who will let her call them OOPsies. You can also follow her on Twitter, where she goes by @fluxcapacitory.

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Review of Kiss of Ash by C. J. Archer

Kiss of Ash
The Witchblade Chronicles Book 2
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance
Number of Pages: 331

Date Started: April 8, 2017
Date Finished: April 9, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Pippa Ingleside will do anything to escape her ruthless uncle, but even she is surprised when her previously dormant powers aid her. Surprised and afraid. Her newly discovered abilities may have saved her but they condemn her at the same time.

Disguised as a boy, she travels to the home of Lord Ashbourne to find her one and only friend. To maintain her disguise and put a roof over her head, Pippa accepts a job as page of the wardrobe to Ash, a man as mysterious as he is dangerous. If he discovers her lie, he’ll send her back to her uncle and her witchcraft will be exposed to the authorities.

As the lies build it gets harder for Pippa to maintain her disguise, especially when she falls in love with the man she must serve.

Her only hope is to find her friend. But when the friend is murdered, Ash investigates and where he goes, his page goes too. Together they uncover a web of secrets that could destroy Ash and condemn Pippa. But that’s nothing compared to what happens when he discovers she’s a woman…

Review:
From the beginning one cannot help but feel for Pippa, who has been imprisoned unfairly for five years. As Pippa attempts to flee and find a way to keep safe from her uncle and whatever he might try to throw at her, she finds herself with Ash. Seeing Ash again was quite nice after how distraught he seemed to be in Honor Bound.

Soon the couple find that there is more mystery than simply that of why a friend has died. Between the lies and deception, Pippa and Ash have to fight to find what is real, and what can save them both.

While both are quick to speak and perhaps too brash for most, Pippa and Ash quickly have an understanding, and neither wants to be the first to admit there is more than duty and lust between them. Their stubbornness and quick wits make them a pleasure to read about in all aspects.

C. J. Archer is such a great, wonderful person on top of being a great author.  She has a fan group on Facebook, CJ Archer’s Ministry of Fans, where people who like her books can talk about them, and Ms. Archer interacts with her fans frequently (which makes her even more endearing).  If you are like me and adore her books, join the group and chat with like minded individuals.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of The Apothecary’s Poison by C. J. Archer

The Apothecary’s Poison
Glass and Steele Book 3
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Gaslamp Fantasy
Number of Pages: 306

Date Started: April 4, 2017
Date Finished: April 6, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
When a newspaper report of a medical miracle catches Matt’s eye, he and India go in search of Dr. Hale in the hope he is more magical doctor than miracle worker and can lead them to Chronos. But Hale turns out to be an apothecary magician keen to educate the public about magic.

Their disappointment at not finding Chronos is soon forgotten when Hale is murdered, and Matt becomes a suspect. With Matt’s nemesis Sheriff Payne influencing the investigating detective, India and Matt know they must find the real killer, or risk his freedom, and ultimately his life. Time is running out as they hunt for a killer capable of turning medicine into poison with a magic spell, as well as continue the search for Chronos. A search that must end in success before Matt’s malfunctioning watch stops altogether.

Review:
This book seamlessly showcases the two opposing sides of Matt and India’s lives as they try to live in polite society but also have to skirt around magic without revealing India’s abilities. As they further their connection to each other, India is caught between what she wants and what she feels would likely be best for Matt’s future– something that many will relate to within their lifetime.

Seeing India become a stronger and more self assured woman has become quite a pleasure, and while she isn’t the same level of outgoing as Willie, she’s clearly willing to stand up for herself and the people she cares about. Because she is well mannered and intelligent she is able to get answers from people that Matt’s brashness wouldn’t work with.

Embedded in this series is a great lesson about people who are sick or have some sort of illness/disability, that despite whatever setbacks the person might have from it, they can’t consider it something that should hold them back. Another message in this particular book is that medicines don’t always do what they claim to, and it’s not right for pharmacists to claim they will.

Cyclops has an interesting past that was great to learn about, and I look forward to seeing if any relationships develop (though preferably NOT with Charity). Through learning of his fears of returning to America, one must wonder if all of Matt’s friends have similar issues, and if the posse will be able to overcome their individual problems to be able to develop lasting relationships and futures with others.

C. J. Archer is such a great, wonderful person on top of being a great author.  She has a fan group on Facebook, CJ Archer’s Ministry of Fans, where people who like her books can talk about them, and Ms. Archer interacts with her fans frequently (which makes her even more endearing).  If you are like me and adore her books, join the group and chat with like minded individuals.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of The Mapmaker’s Apprentice by C. J. Archer

The Mapmaker’s Apprentice
Glass and Steele Book 2
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Gaslamp Fantasy
Number of Pages: 312

Date Started: October 27, 2016
Date Finished: October 30, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)themapmakersapprentice_ebook_final
When an apprentice from the Mapmakers’ Guild goes missing, Matt and India are employed to find him. Going undercover as a married couple, they discover that not everyone at the guild is what they seem, and the lad’s unearthly maps caused jealousy, suspicion and fear.

With one of the apprentice’s magic maps in their possession, India and Matt must use their wits and India’s fledgling, untried magic to find him. But the more they investigate, the more sinister plots they uncover, including a link between the Mapmakers’ and Watchmakers’ Guilds, and an ancient magical treasure buried beneath the streets of London.

As the net of suspicion widens and enemies draw closer, it’s not just the apprentice’s life that’s in danger, but Matt’s too. Someone will go to great lengths to prevent him discovering the name of the man who can fix the watch keeping him alive. Great lengths indeed.

Review:
I will start out by saying I did find some grammatical issues in this novel, though they did not detract in any way from the story being presented.

The relationships really endear me to this series.  There is so much more than what is being said when you read between the lines of interactions between everyone.  Learning more about the hereditary passing of magic was quite useful, and it’s been quite enjoyable learning more about the various types of magics as India does.

It’s refreshing that India seems to care so little about romance, though there is clearly something brewing.  She seems resigned to being a spinster, but she doesn’t allow herself to make poor choices, instead using that situation to her advantage, acting as a strong, independent woman. Romance is still possible for her, but she doesn’t intend on seeking it as a solution for what to do with her future, which I really adore.

I had not figured out the mystery by the time the plot wrapped up, though I had suspected partial involvement by the time it was revealed.  I believe the special collection mentioned in this novel will potentially play a pivotal role in one of the future books in this series, though I could be wrong.

I really enjoyed seeing India become even more independent and knowledgeable in this novel, and I would recommend this book highly.

C. J. Archer is such a great, wonderful person on top of being a great author.  She has a fan group on Facebook, CJ Archer’s Ministry of Fans, where people who like her books can talk about them, and Ms. Archer interacts with her fans frequently (which makes her even more endearing).  If you are like me and adore her books, join the group and chat with like minded individuals.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of The Watchmaker’s Daughter by C. J. Archer

The Watchmaker’s Daughter
Glass and Steele Book 1
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages: 300

Date Started: October 23, 2016
Date Finished: October 27, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)thewatchmakersdaughter_ebook_final_small1
India Steele is desperate. Her father is dead, her fiancé took her inheritance, and no one will employ her, despite years working for her watchmaker father. Indeed, the other London watchmakers seem frightened of her. Alone, poor, and at the end of her tether, India takes employment with the only person who’ll accept her – an enigmatic and mysterious man from America. A man who possesses a strange watch that rejuvenates him when he’s ill. Matthew Glass must find a particular watchmaker, but he won’t tell India why any old one won’t do. Nor will he tell her what he does back home, and how he can afford to stay in a house in one of London’s best streets. So when she reads about an American outlaw known as the Dark Rider arriving in England, she suspects Mr. Glass is the fugitive. When danger comes to their door, she’s certain of it. But if she notifies the authorities, she’ll find herself unemployed and homeless again – and she will have betrayed the man who saved her life. With a cast of quirky characters, an intriguing mystery, and a dash of romance, THE WATCHMAKER’S DAUGHTER is the start of a thrilling new historical fantasy series from the author of the bestselling Ministry of Curiosities, Freak House, and Emily Chambers Spirit Medium books.

Review:
I honestly wasn’t sure what I thought this book was going to be like, but it was far better than I had anticipated.  I absolutely adore the depth that Ms. Archer puts into her characters, their backstories, their desires.  While it is often plot that drives a story, the deep characterization is what makes the reader truly feel for this heroine, who is far more outspoken and forward than most women (especially those looking for a husband) would be in that time period, which makes her all the more intriguing.  I love the relationships between characters, and the so obvious tension that no one is willing to push pass to address.

I absolutely love how important clocks are, and I had almost thought we were going to end up with a steampunk vibe, but although there is a bit of connection it is not enough to consider this novel that genre.  While there might be something supernatural going on, the events are expertly entwined with coincidences and knowledge that the heroine would have that it isn’t obvious.

Though Ministry of Curiosities is still my favourite of her series, this is my second so far.  India is a very strong female lead, someone that I found myself wanting to rally behind and see accomplish great things, and find happiness in life, even if she thinks she’s “spinster age”.  If you have the chance, I highly recommend this book.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of The Charmer by C. J. Archer

The Charmer
Assassins Guild Book 1
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical/Medieval Romance
Number of Pages: 286

Date Started: October 20, 2016
Date Finished: October 24, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)cover-the-charmer
Handsome. Charming. Devastating. He was the last man she needed, but the only one she wanted.

Orlando Holt has never assassinated a woman before. The lovely, feisty Lady Lynden will be his first. She’s supposed to be a vicious murderess, but when Orlando begins to have doubts, he sets out to discover the identity of the person who hired him. What he learns will turn his world upside down, and propel him headlong into love with a woman who’s immune to his charms.

Twice widowed by the age of twenty-four, Lady Susanna Lynden has had enough of charming men. Her last husband knew all the right things to say to get her to the marriage bed…then made her life miserable. Money may be scarce and her house falling down around her, but the exotic fruit from her orange trees will keep poverty away. Except someone is thwarting her at every turn. Someone who may even want her dead.

Review:
I wasn’t certain what to expect out of Archer, having already become completely addicted to her Ministry of Curiosities book series, but this book surely didn’t disappoint.  While different in the lack of supernatural, this book had quite realistic deep characters that were easy to connect with.  Through learning about the characters and their relationships one might be able to guess the mystery, but for me, although I did have an inkling who it might be, I hadn’t figured out the why for certain.

Several amazon reviews state that this book dragged and there wasn’t enough action in it, but I can tell you that I didn’t want to put this book down, and it wasn’t until I was falling asleep trying to continue reading on the kindle that I did so.  The ending was perfect, and it was a quite wonderful read.

Oh, and guess what– this amazing one is for free on kindle!  I certainly recommend this book, and will be moving on to her latest series I have yet to start on.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of Beyond the Grave by C. J. Archer

Her Majesty’s Necromancer
The Ministry of Curiosities Book 3
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages: 284

Date Started: June 26, 2016
Date Finished: June 27, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)beyond the grave
At the request of Lady Harcourt, Charlie and Lincoln begin searching for her missing stepson. Still recovering from her ordeal at the hands of a diabolical villain, Charlie is supposed to be resting. But resting is dull, so she throws herself into the task at hand, much to Lincoln’s frustration.

The search leads them down a dark path littered with family secrets and titillating scandal. Using her necromancy to expose those secrets, Charlie unwittingly raises a spirit with the power to override her control. With a dead body on the loose in London, Charlie and Lincoln must work together to send it back before havoc is unleashed, and the committee members find out.

Because if they do, they will have more ammunition in their fight to send Charlie away from her home and everyone she loves.

Review:
Charlie can’t stand to be idle while those she cares about are off fighting and doing dangerous things.  Unfortunately this sometimes leads her to go against what Lincoln has told her to do.  Despite learning that her necromancy can’t always be used to help, Charlie knows that her people skills can help get answers far better than some of Lincoln’s tactics.  Again, the characterization and tension is perfect, and through this book you begin to see a deeper side of some characters, which reinforces what, as the heroine, is disliked about them to begin with.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer