Mini-Reviews: Carla Kellys and New-to-Me Authors

More reviews originally posted on Goodreads (maybe I should speed up my cross-postings?) – as always, my in-hindsight-type comments in italics.  This time, a batch of Christmas-themed Carla Kellys and new-to-me authors from December 2011.

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Coming Home for Christmas: A Christmas in Paradise\O Christmas Tree\No Crib for a BedComing Home for Christmas: A Christmas in Paradise\O Christmas Tree\No Crib for a Bed by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this collection very much – it left me with warm fuzzy feelings (and slightly teary-eyed a couple of times throughout), and I would totally recommend it for anyone who wants to get into the Christmas mood (yes, I read this in December!).

I remain impressed at how versatile Carla Kelly’s writing is – each story was set in a different time period and location – and I loved the medical focus in this collection. I would have liked more to have been made of the family relationship that linked the three stories, but really, that’s just me being picky.

It’s rare I read newly-released Carla Kellys – for some reason, I tend to read from her backlist more, but this was (at that time) a new collection.  Beautiful Harlequin cover too.

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Carla Kelly's Christmas CollectionCarla Kelly’s Christmas Collection by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely collection of Carla Kelly’s previously-published short stories in various Christmas anthologies. Not many authors can do short stories that leave you feeling satisfied, but she appears to have a knack for it. This also reminded me of how much I like her depiction of historical wartime romances – realistic yet romantic.

I think I had a couple of the short stories in the original anthologies, but I was more than happy to re-read.  

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Marian's Christmas WishMarian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This had a lot more story than I expected – in a good way! I really liked this book.

The large age gap between the h/h bothered me slightly at first – or perhaps it was the age of the heroine (16 going on 17) – but I ended up going with it eventually, especially as you do see Marian mature throughout the book. I loved the close relationship between Marian and her siblings as well.

A really wonderful Christmas romance – one that leaves you with that feel-good feeling.

And I wrapped up my Carla Kelly mini-glom with this book – she’s been releasing a lot of her backlist in e, and they are usually well worth the money.

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Stand-In WifeStand-In Wife by Karina Bliss (series romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Karina Bliss – I’ve heard good things about her writing and I ended up really liking this book.

This was a twins/swapped identities storyline, which is always fun, and I totally believed in the relationship between Viv and Ross. I have to say I didn’t really care for the secondary romance (or should that be the secondary h/h?) in the book.

All in all though, a really good romance and I look forward to reading the other two related books.

I had completely forgotten about this mini-series. Must pick up again, especially as I’ve a sneaky suspicion I did end up buying more Karina Bliss after reading this book. 

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Point of Honour (Sarah Tolerance, #1)Point of Honour by Madeleine E. Robins (alternate-history mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an impulse buy, which turned out to be a rather enjoyable historical mystery.

The writing quickly took me back to the British regency era, albeit a slightly alternate-history version, with a protagonist, who, as a “Fallen Woman” now making her way as a private inquiry agent, provides an unusual viewpoint. While I haven’t completely warmed to Sarah Tolerance, I have a feeling I will in future books, and hopefully more about her past will be revealed.

I liked the London backdrop very much – being familiar with the places and streets mentioned, I found it fascinating to try and reconcile the Cheapside and Bow Lane as described in the book to their present-day incarnations. As for the mystery, I figured out one twist and was feeling quite smug – until the next one caught me by surprise.

Good read and I would look up the next books in this series – there is potential here.

I need to revisit this series as well.  I didn’t get around to reading the second book because I couldn’t find e-copies at a reasonable price, IIRC.

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Master of None (Gavyn Donatti, #1)Master of None by Sonya Bateman (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This debut book with djinns (one of the rarer paranormal creature sightings in UF) was packed full of fast-paced (if slightly gory) action, and it kept my attention throughout.

I found this slightly reminiscent of Jim Butcher‘s Harry Dresden books (or is that because it’s a wisecracking male protagonist in a UF book?). While a few things didn’t quite work for me (the rather confusing background to the conflicts (I skimmed), [spoiler – click through to read], and the slightly-too-neat wrap-up (and setup for the next books)), I’d still pick up the next book.

And three for three.  I never did get around to picking up the next book.  Although having just looked the author up, it looks as though there were only ever two books in this series.  Anyone know if that was planned or if the series was dropped?

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4 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: Carla Kellys and New-to-Me Authors

  1. Hey Li,

    for the Sonya Bateman, I think the series was dropped. I don’t think it was even wrapped up 😦 I liked the idea, but the background was really hard to get into in my opinion. Perhaps it could have gotten better later on in the series.

    Read Stand-In Wife. It was a cute book 🙂 Liked how the heroine handled the kids LOL.

    I just saw the cover of a new Carly Kelly. Need to check her out again. Nice glom 🙂

    And LOL, as long as you continue to cross-post, doesn’t really matter if you do it faster or not 😛

    • I thought that may be the case re Sonya Bateman – her author site looked a bit abandoned. I agree – it felt as though she needed another book or so to really get into her stride. That’s one book off my to-read list then…

      There is a new Carla Kelly coming out soon-ish! Am looking forward to it.

      I figure I’ll stick to slow and steady when it comes to posting 😉

  2. Carla Kelly is one of my favorite authors, but I think I have all those books on my Kindle and I don’t think I’ve read any of them. I also really like Karina Bliss. I haven’t read Stand-In Wife, but the first one I read by her–What the Librarian Did–is my favorite so far.

    Point of Honour sounds interesting. I think I will go look for it.

    Thanks for these reviews. It helps jog my memory for some of the books and authors I’ve forgotten!

    • Oh, I think I’ve WHAT THE LIBRARIAN DID already in my TBR – will have a look for it. Definitely worth saving the Carla Kellys for the Christmas season, which was when I read them. I got my copy of PoH cheap at a second-hand bookstore, but am balking somewhat at the ebook prices for the rest in the series.

      I like reading backlist books/reviews too – sometimes even more than new releases, which can feel a bit same-y after a while. These are more unintentionally late than planned though!

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