Kelly Hunter: Take 2

The last time I cross-posted my Goodreads reviews here, I was up to October 2011, which was my Kelly Hunter glom (ah, happy days).  I posted about the ridiculous good fun that was the Bennett Family series, but those five books were far from the only Hunter books I read last October.

Here are my two-sentence verdicts on the rest (with additional commentary in italics) – the next post will be about the non-Hunter books I did read last October, because despite appearances, they do exist.

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Playboy Boss, Live-In MistressPlayboy Boss, Live-In Mistress by Kelly Hunter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve a soft spot for the friends-to-lovers romance trope, and we get the trademark Kelly Hunter humour in this one. Not my favourite Hunter (I think it felt a bit light, plot-wise), but still a good read.

I admit a year later, I only have a vague memory of the plot and characters, but I do remember liking the book at the time!  The story’s better than the title – this was obviously released during the period when you got bonus points for including words such as playboy and mistress in the title.

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Flirting with IntentFlirting with Intent by Kelly Hunter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked the Hong Kong setting in this one and as always, the chemistry between the hero/heroine worked perfectly. I also liked how she played around with redemption/acceptance themes in this book.

I think this came out in North America fairly recently; I recall seeing a couple of reviews around – here’s the Dear Author one (a C grade).  It worked better for me.  

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The Man She Loves To Hate (Presents Extra)The Man She Loves To Hate by Kelly Hunter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kelly Hunter’s characters are very three-dimensional – I was quickly rooting for Cole and Jolie to overcome the past and get their HEA. This romance had a small-town feel to it, which I also enjoyed.

I’m a sucker for romances where the hero/heroine have a past history, and this was one of them.  Also a fairly new Hunter, IIRC.

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With This FlingWith This Fling by Kelly Hunter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a totally original plot device, but the what-happens-when-your-made-up-fiance-turns-up-in-the-flesh setup made me laugh.

I thought Charlotte and Grey played off each other very well, and liked the secondary characters.

I liked the humour in this one.

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Exposed: Misbehaving with the MagnateExposed: Misbehaving with the Magnate by Kelly Hunter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Kelly Hunter’s take on this second-chance-at-romance story. Some angst and lots of crazy chemistry between the h/h made the relationship interesting, and I liked the unusual European vineyard setting.

I think this is being offered as a free read now (at Amazon, anyway) so would definitely recommend picking up!

I think you either love or hate these kind of romances – Rosario hated it 😉  Err… I liked it, but I’d agree the setting felt less grounded in reality compared to other Hunters.

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Revealed (Modern Heat)Revealed by Kelly Hunter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read the first of the duology, Exposed: Misbehaving with the Magnate, I was looking forward to meeting Rafe, the brother of the heroine in EXPOSED. I probably sound like a broken record when it comes to Kelly Hunter’s books, but again, I loved the chemistry and the banter between the h/h – her writing never fails to make me smile. The big secret was possibly a bit OTT, but this is a M&B after all.

Angst a-plenty in this one, IIRC, which is obviously always a winner for me.

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(Late) Linkage

I came across some links which I thought I had posted previously, but obviously hadn’t – so slightly out-of-date but still interesting (to me, anyway!):

Books for November

It’s been a tad quiet here, but I’ve been too busy diving into the November new release goodness to post (excuses, eh?).  Here are the ones on my must-get list – warning: it’s long and pretty much all fantasy.  What are yours?

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Juliet Marillier‘s FLAME OF SEVENWATERS (fantasy): This is one of the books that has been occupying my time over the past week.  I have such love for these books.  Which meant I approached this book with slight trepidation – knowing that it was (very likely) the last in the series, I was dreading that FLAME wouldn’t quite live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have been worried – from the very first paragraph, I was drawn into the captivating world of Sevenwaters that I’ve grown to know and love over the past five books.  The choice of Maeve as the protagonist was an inspired one – Juliet Marillier writes such strong heroines, and I liked how she didn’t shy away from tackling Maeve’s disability and its impact.  And the ending was very fitting, for both the book and the series.

Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home as a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for taming difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, as she fears the shadows of her past.

Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, who is married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish

When Maeve finds one of the missing travelers murdered in the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign — or lead to a hideous death. But if she is successful, Maeve may open a door to a future she has not dared to believe possible…

Out now (excerpt)

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Tanya Huff‘s THE SILVERED (fantasy): And this is the book that’s currently keeping me up very late.  I don’t want to say very much and jinx things, because I’m only halfway through, but if it continues the way it started off, this could be a fantastic book. Yes, there are werewolves and mages in THE SILVERED, but it is so not your standard shapeshifter fantasy (so don’t stop reading here!).  For one, it isn’t urban fantasy – it’s this really interesting fantasy world, and gah, I really can’t describe it so I’m just going to grab the author’s one-sentence description from her LJ: “New standalone book, created world fantasy, with werewolves as the good guys, Naploeonic tech level…”.  I know, I’m so articulate.

On a side note, Tanya Huff has become an auto-buy author for me over the years – I wasn’t completely won over by her early fantasy books, but have loved her more recent works.  I am also very impressed by her versatility – she writes with such ease across high fantasy, urban fantasy, and military SF genres.

The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen—she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader—to save them. Together the two set out on the kidnappers’ trail, racing into the heart of enemy territory. With every step the odds against them surviving and succeeding soar…

Out now (excerpt)

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Ilona AndrewsSTEEL’S EDGE (paranormal romance): I’m guessing I’m not the only one counting down the days to this release.  Even better, Ilona Andrews has promised a UK ebook release.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that they decide to release with a placeholder cover, instead of holding off the release until they get the proper series covers.  I mean, it’s the content that counts, isn’t it?  We can always get the cover later…

While I am more fond of their Kate Daniels books, the Edge series has some incredibly creative world-building happening.  I’m looking forward to whatever they decide to write next, now that they’ve wrapped this series up.

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.

Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive…

Out Nov 27 (excerpt)

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Sharon Shinn‘s STILL LIFE WITH SHAPESHIFTER (urban fantasy): It’s probably fair to say that I wasn’t in love with Sharon Shinn’s first foray into urban fantasy.  But as it wasn’t the writing I had problems with, I’m going to give this companion book a shot.  I’ve taken a quick peek at the early reviews, and they seem to be fairly positive…

Melanie Landon and her half-sister share a unique bond. For her entire life, Melanie has hidden the fact that Ann is a shape-shifter. The never-ending deception is a heavy weight to bear, but Melanie is determined to keep Ann’s secret and protect her from a world that simply wouldn’t understand.

For months, Melanie hasn’t seen or heard from Ann, in either of her forms. When a man shows up saying he’s there about her sister, Melanie fears the worst. But Brody Westerbrook doesn’t have information about Ann—he’s in search of it.

A freelance writer, Brody intends to include Ann in a book he’s writing about the existence of shape-shifters. While Melanie is immediately drawn to the stranger on her doorstep, she denies his claims, knowing that trusting him isn’t an option.

But when Ann finally appears looking thin and sick, Melanie realizes exposure is the least of their worries. Protecting her sister has always been such an enormous part of Melanie’s life, but as Ann’s health rapidly deteriorates, Melanie must come to grips with the fact that saving her may mean letting go…

Out now (excerpt)

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Laini Taylor‘s DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT (YA fantasy): Sequel to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE, this one appears to be on everyone’s November reading list.  I loved the imaginative world-building in the first book, and want to see where the story goes next.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Out now (excerpt)

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Jim Butcher‘s COLD DAYS (urban fantasy): Speaking of books on everybody’s November list… the recent Dresden Files books have taken Harry’s story to a different level, and COLD DAYS promises to be as much of a page-turner as the previous books.  I know I keep grumbling around the lack of feeling in Harry’s relationships, but the story-telling makes up for the somewhat out-of-the-box female characters.

Spoiler-y description if you haven’t read the previous books, so I’ll skip this part.

Out Nov 27 (excerpt)

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Kevin Hearne‘s TRAPPED (urban fantasy): And speaking of Harry Dresden…  I’ve been meaning to pick up Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series for quite a while (the first three was released in quick succession towards the end of last year, IIRC) as I’ve been hearing good things – and usually combined with a “If you like the Dresden books…”.

While I would love to be original, yep, that’s a pretty good comparison, though with the plus of a refreshing take on various pantheons and mythologies.  I finally got around to reading these books while I was on holiday earlier in the year, and was just about to file them in my Pleasant-But-Not-Groundbreaking-UF bucket, when at the end of the third book, Hearne raises the stakes.  I love it when that happens in a series.  So yes, I’m planning on reading this one.

After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.

Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.

Out Nov 27 (book page)

Award Nominees, Short Stories, and Recs

RT Times has been revealing their 2012 Reviewers’ Choice Awards nominations – here’s their paranormal/urban fantasy category (with links to the other categories).  While it’s been interesting scanning through the nominated books, there are quite a few sub-categories (nine for the paranormal/urban fantasy category alone – I have to say this is the first time I’ve seen a steampunk novel section) and a correspondingly large number of books…  So I’m guessing the nominee list should be taken with a slight pinch of salt, though it may be a good source for finding something in a specific sub-genre.

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Estara recommended Karalynn Lee‘s fantasy romance HEART OF THE DRAGON’s REALM the other day – I liked it enough to go searching out her other works, and while looking up her short stories on the Beneath Ceaseless Skies online magazine, I found a couple of fun fantasy shorts by Marissa Lingen I enjoyed: The Witch’s Second and Cursed Motives.  I’ve downloaded e-versions of her other stories to read and plan to browse through more of BCS at a later date.

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Tor.com has an “If You Like…” post on Lois McMaster Bujold and her Vorkosigan SF books –  recommendations in the comments include my some of (other) favourite series, including Elizabeth Peters‘ Amelia Peabody series and Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia books (suggested by LMB herself!).  I love this kind of cross-genre If You Like posts – it doesn’t matter that the Amelia Peabody books are historical mysteries and MWT writes YA fantasy, it’s the story and characters that count.  And as all three series are on my keeper shelf, I suspect this is a post that I need to bookmark for further recs.

Around the Web

Not book-related at all, but I don’t know how many of you heard about Martha Payne and her blog NeverSeconds when it hit the headlines a while back because her school tried to ban her from blogging her meals. They backed down after the publicity, but Martha and her family used her new-found fame to raise money for Mary’s Meals, a charity that funds meals for school children in poorer communities – she’s raised over £120,000 for them (and she is not yet quite ten years old).

I just saw a documentary on BBC about Martha and her family’s trip to Malawi to see the kitchens built by the money that was raised and it made me sniffle – it’s a very worthy cause.  Also, her blog is charming and she has guest posts from school children all over the world – it’s interesting to see how school meals differ between countries!

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Back to books, I’ve heard about Mark Reads and have skimmed through a couple of his posts when he was reading Harry Potter, but didn’t realise he was now reading the Alanna books.  Tamora Pierce‘s Song of the Lioness quartet is way up there on my list of favourite YA fantasy books, and Mark’s take on them is hilariously funny.  Obviously spoilerific, but this post about Chapter 2 of THE WOMAN WHO RIDES LIKE A MAN made me choke with laughter. Go Alanna!

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I read Rachel Hartman‘s SERAPHINA a while back (YA fantasy with dragons) and stumbled across a prequel, which I really quite liked.  As for SERAPHINA itself, I found the story slightly too slow-paced and it had a bit too much politics for me.  But I enjoyed the fantasy world, especially the “otherness” of dragons, and will probably pick up the sequel.

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Finally, a Lois McMaster Bujold interview where she talks about CAPTAIN VORPATRIL’S ALLIANCE – she describes CVA as “… romantic comedy and caper novel”.  Spot on description, really.