A Minor Accomplishment (and Links)

Look!  It’s only taken me eleven months to log all my 2015 reads on Goodreads.  Ha. *eyes 2016 notes*

I think I’ve mentioned my “process” before – I basically jot down some rough notes (and rating using GR stars) in a Google Docs document and then transfer over in a (much) more coherent form to GR when I’ve some time to spare.  (This excludes those books that I feel strongly enough to blog about here, obviously!)

What I have found myself doing when transcribing my notes a year some time later is that I occasionally adjust my original rating for a book – rarely upwards, usually downwards.  Not very often – it was maybe for ten or so books when I was finishing off my 2015 updates?  In a way, distance helps me to calibrate my ratings – if I can barely remember the plot a few months later, that 4* was probably a bit too generous in hindsight.  Does anyone else adjust ratings retrospectively too?

Anyway, a couple of links for the weekend:

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Three Fun Links

27781572Do you know what a “larrikin” is?  I had no idea – my vocabulary obviously doesn’t stretch to Australia slang!  Kelly Hunter explains what a larrikin is (and isn’t).  There’s also an excerpt from her new-ish contemporary romance A BAD BOY FOR CHRISTMAS (I really enjoyed this one – she always manages to pack so much story (and chemistry) into a category-length romance).

You’ve noticed the new Vorkosigan covers, right?  The cover artist Ron Miller wrote an interesting post on good cover design.  I’m a bit on the fence about the new covers – they’re better than some covers Lois McMaster Bujold has had (understatement of the year, possibly) but I’m not entirely sure they’ll appeal to new readers.  Here’s LMB’s post talking about the alternative cover concepts (also interesting!).

And this totally made me smile.  Olivia Hunyh is such a great illustrator, and I adored her Google Doodle tribute to LM Montgomery.  Check out the Anne of Green Gables scenes she captured in the second two doodles – they are so perfect!

Books for September

For whatever reason (stars aligning etc etc), there are a LOT of new releases in September that I want.  It’s going to be a good reading month…

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22559338Sherwood Smith‘s RONDO ALLEGRO (historical romance): Sherwood Smith is better-known for her fantasy novels (CROWN DUEL is probably the gateway novel into her works), but I really liked her take on Regency romance in DANSE DE LA FOLIE, so I’m up for this.  I’m guessing this is a romance based on the blurb…

At the end of the eighteenth century, all of Europe is at war.

In Palermo, sixteen-year-old singer-in-training Anna Maria Ludovisi is married by her dying father to Captain Henry Duncannon, the Perennial Bachelor. Mere minutes after the wedding he sets sail.

The threat of French invasion causes Anna to flee to Paris. At the end of the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte is transforming France; Anna must transform herself into a professional singer in order to survive.

in 1805, Anna’s opera company is traveling through Spain when events bring the long-missing Captain Duncannon and his forgotten wife back together again, as the English, Spanish, and French fleets converge for battle off the Cape of Trafalgar.

For Henry Duncannon as well as Anna, everything changes: the demands of war, the obligation of family, the meaning of love, and the concept of home. Can they find a new life together?

Out Sept 9

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22821635Patricia BriggsSHIFTING SHADOWS (urban fantasy): So not quite a new Mercy Thompson novel, more a collection of both old and new short stories (roughly half-and-half, I think, based on the info on her website).  I’ve read all the previously-released short stories, but I think there’s enough new content to persuade me to get this (though I may wait for a price drop).  Plus I’ve always liked the original Alpha & Omega novella.

Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger . . .

Including a number of original short stories, this stunning collection is set in the world of Mercy Thompson – mechanic, shapeshifter and fighter – and the characters she calls friends.

Out Sept 2

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22392751Sarina Bowen‘s FALLING FROM THE SKY and Amy Jo Cousins‘ WHEN THE LIGHTS GO DOWN (contemporary romance):  Both of these are in the latest Harlequin E Contemporary Romance Box Set (together with two other stories), which makes it a no-brainer (the Harlequin E box set being a limited period e-bundle of four categories for a lower price).  If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you’ll know I’ve been really enjoying Sarina Bowen’s NA romance books, and while I haven’t mentioned it, I thought both these authors’ stories in the first Harlequin E box set had potential.

Four different men. Four unforgettable romances…

Falling from the Sky by Sarina Bowen

A brutal spinal cord injury robbed snowboarder Hank Lazarus of everything. But just as Hank gives up, Dr. Callie Anders shows him something that’s really worth fighting for….

Maid to Love by Rebecca M. Avery

Academic Courtney Wells has waited long enough and is going to have a baby on her own. But then she meets military-man-turned-maid Ian Hamilton….

When the Lights Go Down by Amy Jo Cousins

A new play could mean stage manager Maxie Tyler is finally Broadway-bound–as long as she can resist wickedly hot producer Nicholas Drake. Because getting involved with the “money” is a no-no…and this show must go on!

Start Me Up by Kristina Knight

When Hollywood hunk Chase MacIntyre proposes a faux relationship, disgraced L.A. matchmaker Nina Wright can’t refuse…until some serious sexiness makes “on paper” happen between the sheets!

Out Sept 1

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15748529Seanan McGuire‘s THE WINTER LONG (urban fantasy): Under normal circumstances, I’d be counting down the days to this release.  However, through pure serendipity, I stumbled upon a copy at a bookstore, and yes, have already read it.  If you love Toby Daye (*raises hand*), you’ll like this one – I enjoyed revisiting Toby’s world, the usual suspects are all present and accounted for, and there are some rather interesting twists plot-wise, combined with a bit of emotional punch.  On the not-so-good side, there were bits that did feel repetitive (I know people who struggle with this series call this aspect out, and I could definitely see that in this book) and I kind of wanted more.

Short and straight-to-the-punch blurb:

 Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.

Out Sept 2

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18744715Juliet Marillier‘s THE CALLER (YA fantasy): While I had a couple of issues with the first book (still liked it, mind – just wasn’t up to the standards I set for a Marillier book), the second worked better for me, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy.

In the final book in this gripping, romantic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Robin McKinley, Kristin Cashore, and Shannon Hale, Neryn’s band of rebels reach their climactic confrontation with the king. The stunning conclusion to the story that began with Shadowfell and Raven Flight is full of romance, intrigue, magic, and adventure.

Just one year ago, Neryn had nothing but a canny skill she barely understood and a faint dream that the legendary rebel base of Shadowfell might be real. Now she is the rebels’ secret weapon, and their greatest hope for survival, in the fast-approaching ambush of King Keldec at Summerfort.

The fate of Alban itself is in her hands. But to be ready for the bloody battle that lies ahead, Neryn must first seek out two more fey Guardians to receive their tutelage. Meanwhile, her beloved, Flint, has been pushed to his breaking point as a spy in the king’s court—and is arousing suspicion in all the wrong quarters.

At stake lies freedom for the people of Alban, a life free from hiding for the Good Folk—and a chance for Flint and Neryn to finally be together.

Out Sept 9

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22839846Nalini Singh‘s ROCK ADDICTION (contemporary romance): Nalini Singh’s surprise rock star book!  Are rock stars becoming one of those really specific romance subgenres, something like motorcycle clubs?  I’m wondering how her PNR writing will translate into contemporary, to be honest (I know she started off in category romance, but I haven’t read any of those books) – it could go either way.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh stuns with a sizzling contemporary romance…

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

Out Sept 9

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20697444MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant (YA fantasy): So I’ll be perfectly honest – I’m getting this purely for the Sarah Rees Brennan, because her contribution is set in the Turn of the Story universe (which she’s been serialising on her blog for free).  Or at least I think it is, so if it turns out to be a completely separate story, I’ll be horribly disappointed…

Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.

Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

Out Sept 9

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18309803Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNMADE (YA urban fantasy): As we’re talking SRB, the final book in her Lynburn Legacy trilogy is out this month as well. I’ve liked the first two books (the first worked for me more than the second, however), so again I’m looking forward to reading the final book.

Fairly major spoilers for the first two books in the book blurb, so I’ll just link to the book’s Goodreads page.

Out Sept 23

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20359719Sherry Thomas‘s THE PERILOUS SEA (YA fantasy): Moving on to a second book in a trilogy, Sherry Thomas is also releasing her follow-up to THE BURNING SKY, which I liked, but didn’t entirely love (you may have figured out by now that insta-love is really not my favourite thing in a book).  So potentially middle-book syndrome here, or possibly not…

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

Out Sept 16

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BadBoys_Hunter_Final_medium-672x1024Kelly Hunter‘s SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (contemporary romance): I like Kelly Hunter’s books so much that I actually added this to Goodreads so I could link it here (go easy on me if I’ve set up the page wrong please – I do this probably once in a blue moon).  More info plus prologue on Kelly Hunter’s blog – it’s related to her earlier book THE HONEYMOON TRAP (but setting up a GR series is beyond me, and I don’t think there’s an official series title anyway…).

Sympathy For The Devil is Caleb Jackson’s story. Dive master, charter boat operator, one third of Jackson’s boat building enterprises – you may have met him in The Honeymoon Trap. He played the good brother in that story, and he can be a good brother. He tries to be.

He just doesn’t always succeed.

Have you ever done something you shouldn’t have? Ever screwed someone over and vowed never to do it again?

Welcome to Caleb’s world.

Out Sept 23 (or thereabouts)

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Well.  I did say it was a long list…

A (Partial) 2013 Survey + Looking Ahead to 2014

I managed to start off the year by accidentally marking all posts in my feed reader as read.  Whoops!  While it’s hopefully not an omen for the year ahead, it’s kind of refreshing to look at Feedly and think I’m completely up-to-date with everyone’s posts 😉

best-books-2013

Anyway, I’ve been seeing the 2013 End of Year Survey hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner pop up around the internets.  I wanted to do it – I even started drafting the post, but then realised that most of the answers would be along the lines of Parr, Pacat, Doyle & MacDonald, Wells, Elliott, Cross, Ryan… rinse & repeat…

I’m serious.

And while I’d love to gush a bit more about how I loved all their books, it would make for a pretty boring post.  So I decided that I’m going to cheat a bit and only answer the questions where the answers WEREN’T any of those above.  I know.  I’m a rebel, right?

Here goes:


2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Well.

I feel like this is sort of a negative way to start off the post, but then again, I skipped question #1, which was Best Books You Read in 2013.  Serves me right.

I mentioned this in my annual wrap-up post, but most of the series books I was anticipating just didn’t hit it out of the park for me.  Not that they were letdowns or anything, but I WANTED MORE.

So while an answer could be most of them, that’s only because I had really high expectations for a lot of books (and to be fair, I marked most of them as 4 star reads on GR anyway).  However, one book that didn’t quite work for me was Sharon Lee & Steve’s Miller‘s TRADE SECRET, which was depressing because I’d been looking forward to a sequel to BALANCE OF TRADE for so long.  But I never connected with the main protagonist nor cared enough to follow the obscure-ish plot(s).  I eventually finished the book, but it was a bit of a drag.

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7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Elle Kennedy‘s HOTTER THAN EVER – I don’t think I’ve ever read a ménage à trois book before, but I was convinced by the Dear Author review.

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10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

13578466I love this Goodreads covers view of my 2013 books (even though I’m still in the process of listing all my 2013 reads).  I actually think most of the covers are fantastic, and there’s a real mix of styles – from retro to romantic, from atmospheric to just plain intriguing.

If I had to pick one (and obviously it would be one that I haven’t added to GR yet), it would probably be Sharon Shinn‘s ROYAL AIRS, and not just because the colours match my blog…  I love the ethereal feel, which contrasts quite nicely with that steely look of determination on Josetta’s face.

Jonathan Barkat was listed as the cover illustrator – I think he also did the cover for the previous book, TROUBLED WATERS.

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13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? and 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling

I grouped these two questions together as Elizabeth Wein‘s WWII novel ROSE UNDER FIRE would be the answer to both.  ROSE was hard-hitting and powerful in ways I didn’t anticipate, and I closed the book thinking “lest we forget”.  I’m glad she wrote it, and I’m glad I read it.

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19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

All my very favourite books for the year were from new-to-me authors, so here are two I haven’t mentioned yet: Anne Bishop‘s WRITTEN IN RED (not perfect and problematic in places, but it hit the right spot) and Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING (added to the list of YA fantasies I’d recommend).

And to be honest, pretty much everything Ilona Andrews and Kelly Hunter released in 2013.

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25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Seanan McGuire‘s INDEXING was a very fun and imaginative take on fairytales – and I say that as someone who generally does not get on with fairytale retellings.  It was released as a Kindle serial in the US, but only in book form in the UK – while I grumbled about not having the weekly episodes, I’m glad I got to read the entire story in one go!

Speaking of serials, I did read John Scalzi‘s THE HUMAN DIVISION in serial form, and Episode #7, “The Dog King”, was hilarious.

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And looking ahead to 2014:

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

Ann Leckie‘s ANCILLARY JUSTICE – everyone and their mother appears to be loving this debut SF.  It’s on my Kindle now, so no excuses!

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2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

What, just one?  Here are four:

A new Andrea K Höst hopefully, fingers crossed – though she’s said that she may not release anything during 2014.

The next New York Leopards book by Allison Parr (I swear I read somewhere it’s Abe’s book – I hope so!).  Oh, I’ve obviously lifted my moratorium on mentioning these authors for 2014 😉

Sarah Rees Brennan‘s TELL THE WIND AND FIRE is a YA fantasy retelling of A TALE OF TWO CITIES, which sounds incredibly fun.

And Anne Bishop‘s MURDER OF CROWS (the follow-up to WRITTEN IN RED) is due out in March.

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3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I don’t really track debut authors, so I’m totally going to cheat and say Katherine Addison‘s THE GOBLIN EMPEROR (April 2014).  This is Addison’s debut work, but it’s Sarah Monette writing under a new name.

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4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

CS Pacat‘s conclusion to her Captive Prince trilogy – I’m really hoping this is a 2014 release.

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5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

Umm… the usual.  Post more, comment more, read more from that TBR mountain of mine…

Books for December

The countdown to Christmas is in full swing and there are SO many things to do.  I’m ticking off the number of working days left in the year myself (ten more days here!) and trying to make time for the (very many) new releases I want to read this month.

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10487466Andrea K Höst‘s BONES OF THE FAIR (fantasy): She’s an auto-buy author for me, so this is really a no-brainer.  It’s a companion novel to CHAMPION OF THE ROSE – I’m looking forward to revisiting that world!

Darest stands on the verge of a Golden Age. The revival of the Rathen line and a blood price won from the Fair has drawn a flood of visitors eager to snatch their share of changing fortune – or at least one of the fabulous prizes offered at the Spring Festival.

Among those coaxed back to the once-failing kingdom is Gentian Calder, daughter of Shapers. Before she can decide whether to risk her life by staying, news arrives to put all other considerations aside. The Atlaran Ambassador and half the heirs of the western kingdoms have disappeared on Darest’s border.

Gentian agrees to join the Diamond Coeurveur and his apprentice in a rush to join the search. Will they find the missing? A plot against Darest? Or uncover older secrets, buried deep?

Out now

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15980677KICKING IT edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price (UF): I love Kalayna Price’s writing, so she’s the main attraction for me in this one.  But I’m also keen to read the contributions by other authors and figure out if I should be trying any other UF series.

Featuring stories by FAITH HUNTER * KALAYNA PRICE * RACHEL CAINE * CHLOE NEILL * ROB THURMAN * SHANNON K. BUTCHER * LUCIENNE DIVER * CHRIS MARIE GREEN * CHRISTINA HENRY

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine has modern-day potions witches Holly and Andrew facing off against a firebrand politician who wears literally killer boots in a Texas-sized rodeo of trouble.

Boot-loving Cadogan vampire Lindsey must team up with off-again, on-again vampire partner Luc when a woman from her past is targeted by supernaturals in New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill’s all-new adventure.

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman features Trixa Iktomi from her Trickster series dealing with magical vengeance and magical footwear.

Taking kick-ass urban fantasy literally, USA Today bestselling authors Kalayna Price and Faith Hunter bring together the best of the genre to once again prove when you’re fighting supernatural forces, it helps to keep your feet on the ground.

Out now

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16045296Miranda Kenneally‘s RACING SAVANNAH (NA): I’ve enjoyed all of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks books – she has this breezy writing style which sucks you straight into the story, and this should be no exception. Plus horse racing!

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Out now

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17279560DANGEROUS WOMEN edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois (UF): Every single GRRM/Dozois anthology makes me think “I want!” and this is no exception. It probably would be worth it just for the new Diana Gabaldon story (okay, and the new Jim Butcher), but there are also many others.

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn,  S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.

Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands.  Instead, you will find sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female bandits and rebels, embattled survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more.”

Out now

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17859577ELEMENTARY edited by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy): Nothing says Christmas like a Lackey anthology – oh, is that just me?  This is the annual DAW anthology of stories set in one of Mercedes Lackey’s fantasy worlds – like last year, she’s chosen her Elemental Masters universe.  I would have preferred her Valdemar setting, but I’ll get this regardless…

In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book would be the beginning of a fantasy career that would span decades and more than a hundred novels, with no signs of slowing yet.

And among Ms. Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically-acclaimed and beloved as those of the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

Now the voices of other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner…

Out now

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18221555Kelley Armstrong‘s BRAZEN (UF): This is a Subterranean Press release – I’m glad they’re doing an ebook edition as well, because as beautifully-produced as their hardcovers are, I can’t really justify the shipping costs to the UK.

Nicholas Sorrentino knows everyone in the supernatural world considers him the Pack’s playboy, the pretty but not very useful werewolf whose only reputation involves his amorous exploits.

Usually, Nick couldn’t care less what anyone outside the Pack thinks of him. But when it affects his hunt for Malcolm Danvers, a psychotic bogeyman from the Pack’s past, it matters.

Necessity forces Nick to team up with mercenary half-demon Vanessa Callas to run Malcolm to ground in Detroit. Together, they discover Malcolm is more deadly than ever. And he wants to play.

It’s time for Nick to prove he’s not just a lover.

Out now

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Other books I want to get:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (contemporary romance): It’s a Kelly Hunter!  It’s also a novella, so I’m counting on this filling the need for  a quick satisfying read amidst the Christmas bustle.
  • EL Tettensor‘s DARKWALKER (fantasy): Jan brought this to my attention and I’m intrigued now – I’m a sucker for a fantasy/mystery.
  • Julie Cross‘ RETURN TO YOU (NA): The third installment in Julie Cross’s Letters to Nowhere series – I’m looking forward to catching up with Karen & co!
  • Harper Fox‘s TINSEL FISH (contemporary m/m romance): An unexpected sequel but welcome to ONCE UPON A HAUNTED MOOR.
  • Joanna Chambers‘ BEGUILED (historical m/m romance): Another sequel, this time to PROVOKED – I’m hoping for a HEA this time around.

Books for November

I know I said October had a lot of new releases – well, I feel as though November has even more.

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13578466Sharon Shinn‘s ROYAL AIRS (fantasy): I am so excited about this one, you have no idea.  I loved TROUBLED WATERS, the first book in this series (though I recall reviews were slightly mixed) – I’m glad she’s decided to revisit this world.

“Master storyteller Sharon Shinn created the thrilling and enchanting world of Welce in her acclaimed novel “Troubled Waters.” Return with her to that elemental universe in this tale of secrecy, romance, and a battle for power…”

Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city.

Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables—until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she’s stumbled into the wrong bar. She, too, is a princess—sister to Josetta, who finds her with Rafe. He fascinates her.

Josetta has never encountered anyone like him—someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings. He is drawn to her, though he thinks they are unlikely to ever meet again—but their connection grows strong when she nurses him back to health after he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries.

And when they learn the reason he’s being hunted, they know that the truth about his history could endanger not only their love but also their very lives…

Out Nov 4

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13544081Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s TRADE SECRET (SF): I actually have this book already, thanks to Baen’s policy of releasing ebooks the month before the hardcover publication. While it’s another Liaden Universe book, it’s not part of the Korval storyline (I think, anyway) – I remember liking Jethri’s story in BALANCE OF TRADE, so I’m glad we get to see what happens next.

Star-spanning galactic trader Jethri Gobelyn’s story continues in the seventeenth entry in the Liaden Universe series by master storytellers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

In a universe full of interstellar intrigue and burgeoning commerce, novice Terran trader Jethri Gobelyn, adopted by a Liaden clan after an ill-directed bow of honor insulted the scion of a major Liaden house, is alive and whole to tell the tale. Convinced that the adoption has saved his life and made his future, he settles into a comfortable and even elite routine, a Trader’s Ring his goal.

Even as Jethri’s initiation into the mysteries and joys of Liaden Festival bring him to manhood, he’s forced to face Necessity and the facts of life: his adoption has also invigorated a net of unfinished Balance far more complex and potentially deadly than a simple Terran blood feud. He must embrace his Terran birthright as well as his Liaden connections while leaving behind the safety of the great Liaden trade ship Elthoria to defend his honor and that of shipmates past and present. Forced to sit Second Board as a back-up pilot on a Liaden Scout ship, Jethri’s convinced he’s already at wit’s end—when several familiar faces threaten all that he knows of himself, and all that he wishes to do.

Out Nov 5

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15724097Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS (mystery): How long has it been since the last JSF?  More than two years apparently – it says a lot that just reading the blurb below has me remembering Clare, Russ, and Millers Kill vividly.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and kidnapping. Which is the very last thing Russ needs…Currently he’s struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood. And his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week in an unelectrified ice-fishing cabin. The vestry of St. Alban’s Church has called for the bishop to investigate Clare’s “unpriestly” pregnancy. She has one week to find out if she will be scolded, censured, or suspended from her duties. Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again-off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away.

As the days and hours tick by, Russ and Clare fight personal and professional battles they’ve never encountered. In the course of this one tumultuous week the lives of the Millers-Kill residents readers have come to love and cherish change forever.

Out Nov 5

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18392843Viv Daniels‘ ONE & ONLY (NA): Viv Daniels aka Diana Peterfreund aka author-of-one-of-my-favourite-ever-series… I’m so looking forward to seeing what she does with her self-pubbed venture into the New Adult genre.  Especially as she wrote NA even before it was labelled NA.

One night they can’t forget…

Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.

One love they can’t ignore…

Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.

…And only one chance to get things right.

Out Nov 8

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18524333Julie Cross‘s RETURN TO SENDER (YA): Remember when I raved about LETTERS TO NOWHERE?  This is the follow up.  Fair warning: it’s going to be shorter than LoW – Julie Cross is doing shorter but more frequent releases to round off this series.  FYI I tweeted her to ask about the price point for this one and she reckoned $2.99, but with some $0.99 sales and potentially collecting these novellas in a couple of volumes at either $3.99 or $4.99.  I liked LoW so much that I’d probably pay full price.

If only summer could last forever…

Karen and Jordan might be out in the open with their relationship, but that doesn’t make it any easier for them to face events looming in the future. Like Jordan leaving for college halfway across the country. Or Karen’s win at a big international gymnastics competition setting the bar high for her future and adding pressure like she’s never experienced before.

But when Nina Jones (aka-US Gymnastics Dictator), makes plans for Karen and teammate Stevie to train at a gymnastics camp for a month—the same camp where Jordan coaches—romantic summer interludes replace their fears of being apart. Both Jordan and Karen know that when fall comes, some very tough decisions will have to be made, but for now, it’s stolen kisses, racing hearts, and whispered words.

Out now

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13431883Kelley Armstrong‘s WILD JUSTICE (suspense): If there’s a theme to this month’s releases, it appears to be long-awaited sequels finally turning up.  The last Nadia Stafford book was published in 2009 – I seem to recall talk of Kelley Armstrong considering self-pubbing this (though I could just be making that up), but it’s being released via the traditional route.

Protect the innocent. If there is any one principle that drives hit man Nadia Stafford, it’s this. In her own mind, when she was thirteen, she failed to protect her older cousin Amy from being murdered. Now she fails again, disastrously, when she botches a hit. To help her find her equilibrium, her mentor, Jack, brings her a gift: the location and new identity of the predator who killed her cousin and disappeared after the case against him failed.

Vengeance, justice? With the predator in her sights, nothing seems more right, more straightforward, more easy. But finding justice is never as simple as it seems.

Out Nov 26

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And that’s not all – other books I’m looking forward to:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW (contemporary romance): I mentioned this last month’s list, as the M&B/Harlequin ebook release was last month, but the book goes on general sale 1 Nov.
  • Josh Lanyon‘s KICK START (m/m romantic suspense): I may think Josh Lanyon occasionally prices his self-pubbed works on the high side, but I’m a massive fan of his Dangerous Ground series, so I’m getting this for more Will & Taylor
  • Richelle Mead‘s THE FIERY HEART (YA UF):  The 4th installment in her Bloodlines series.  I’ll probably end up borrowing this from the library, as the previous books haven’t really blown me away.
  • A COSMIC CHRISTMAS 2 YOU edited by Hank Davis (SF anthology): It’s the Baen Christmas anthology – I suspect I’ll get this because of the familiar names on the list of contributors (including Wen Spencer and Sarah A Hoyt)

Romance, Mystery, and a Bit of Fantasy

I’ve been pretty bad at cross-posting my Goodreads reviews here – I think I heaved a sigh of relief when I finished with my 2011 reads, and then promptly forgot to continue cross-posting.  Here’s what I read in January 2012 (talk about a trip down memory lane) – additional thoughts in italics.

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Sleeping Partner (Modern Romance Series Extra) (Modern Romance Series Extra)Sleeping Partner (Modern Romance Series Extra) by Kelly Hunter (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sexy, sweet, yet sentimental romance – what more could you ask for? The humorous banter between Mia and Ethan made me laugh, and I loved the side interactions between Ethan and his father. The setting was fantastic – the local colour provided additional depth to the story, which was really all about complicated messy family ties and love.

The last of my Kelly Hunter backlist glom, IIRC. Her next release (finally!) is out in November 2013 – she posted a teaser scene on her blog and is calling WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW a “…friends-to-lovers, fake marriage amnesia story”.  How many more tropes can you pack into a category romance?  Obviously, I cannot wait. 

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Naked Once MoreNaked Once More by Elizabeth Peters (mystery)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book compulsively readable, just like all my other Elizabeth Peters – there was a lot of “just one more chapter” bargaining with myself.

As Jacqueline Kirby, the protagonist, is an author, I inevitably spent some time wondering how much of the publishing industry experience described is true and how much was just loving(?) parody. Jacqueline is the sort of person you either love or hate – I think I would detest her in real life, but as a heroine in a book, she is hilarious and her self-confidence rather impressive!

There were enough twist and turns in the plot to completely bamboozle me, and while I lost track of who was who occasionally (there is, or it feels as though there is, a cast of thousands in this book), it all came together in the end. And while there are also some side plots that don’t contribute very much to the main story, they just made this book all the more entertaining.

This was my last unread Elizabeth Peters mystery.  Jacqueline Kirby is no Amelia Peabody, but this mini-series of four books is still fun.

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His Untamed InnocentHis Untamed Innocent by Sara Craven (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was an impulse purchase – I liked the premise and recall liking some of Sara Craven’s previous books. While the setting felt current enough, Marin came across as being too much on the naive side, and I never got into their romance. Nothing wrong really with this story, but it doesn’t deliver anything fresh either.

I don’t really remember very much about this book unfortunately.  Standard category romance fare.

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The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am very late to the party on this one judging from the number of GR reviews. I’m not quite sure what took me so long to pick this up, but winning the second book Heart of Steel in a giveaway hosted by the author finally prompted me to start reading THE IRON DUKE.

And you know what? I really really liked it.

I loved the incredibly imaginative, in-depth, and consistent world-building. There wasn’t just a passing nod to steampunk – instead, everything, including the mindset and behaviour of the characters, came across as note-perfect, making this alternate-history world feel real and believable.

The plot itself is not a complicated one – it’s a murder mystery with political undertones, combined with some old-school romance. But combined with the refreshingly unique backdrop, this was an thoroughly entertaining and satisfying read.

I know this book generated some controversy, which I do want to mention [click through to GR review to see spoiler].

I’m glad I have HEART OF STEEL in my TBR pile, because I need to know more about this world.

I never quite got into Meljean Brook’s Guardians series (read the first, stumbled to a halt halfway through the second, and am pretty sure I still have the third (and possibly the fourth – what can I say…) in my TBR pile somewhere) but THIS – I love her Iron Seas world.

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Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2)Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meljean Brook has probably done the impossible with this series – that is, I’m actually reading (and loving) zombie books. To be fair, it is more that I’m reading books that just happen to have zombies in them, but still, that’s more than any other author has done.

After the first book, The Iron Duke, I admit to secretly wanting to see more of alternate-world England in HEART OF STEEL. While I was initially disappointed that this was not to be the case, Yasmeen and Archimedes made such a fitting h/h pairing and I was rapidly caught up in their story. I liked that the author did not shy away from the more difficult parts – Yasmeen would not have become a mercenary ship captain by being all sweetness and light, and Meljean Brook showed the brutality that Yasmeen would have had demonstrated over her career. And yet somehow, there was still humour and charm in this story, and I was firmly rooting for Yasmeen and Archimedes to get their HEA.

This is such a fantastic (and fantastical) world, and I’m excited about the next Iron Seas book.

*In the interest of transparency, note that I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Meljean Brook. I can safely say this hasn’t influenced my review or rating (though I do get a feeling of glee when I look at my personalised copy).

Ummm… giveaways work?  Seriously, I’m glad I entered (and won), else it would have probably taken me a couple of years more to stumble upon this series.

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Majesty, Mistress...Missing HeirMajesty, Mistress…Missing Heir by Caitlin Crews (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this one up after hearing good things about the author. The Yorkshire setting appealed and I liked how she played around with the accidental pregnancy plotline. Having said that, I never really connected with the h/h, and it ended up being a so-so read. I did like Caitlin Crews’ writing and I would probably try another of her books though.

Another middle-of-the-road category romance.

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Affairs of Steak (A White House Chef Mystery, #5)Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve had both hits and misses with this series, so was slightly cautious when I started this book, but ended up liking it overall.

I was glad that we got to see a different side to Sargeant, who has been a pretty one-dimensional villain in previous books (though Virgil now appears to have taken his place!). There was some genuinely suspenseful moments in this book, and all in all, it was a pretty good story. As usual, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peek into the running of the White House and Secret Service. And Ollie’s new romantic interest is slowly starting to grow on me.

These books tend to be released around January, so they’re starting to signal New Year to me.  Probably the only cosy mystery series I’m following now.  

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February ThawFebruary Thaw by Tanya Huff (fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love that Tanya Huff has been re-releasing her short story backlist, and I enjoyed every single one in this collection (which, trust me, is a rather rare occurrence).

Standouts for me were A Midsummer’s Night Dream Team (a hilarious take on what happens when elves decide they’re interested in the Olympics!) and February Thaw (a marital falling out between Hades and Persephone), but the other five shorts were good reads too.

I’m not quite sure when Tanya Huff turned into an auto-buy author – I think she kind of snuck up on me.  I’ve read her books since forever, I think, but it’s only fairly recently I’ve started stalking out her new releases page.  

Books for May

May = TWO Bank Holiday weekends.  And these new releases.  What’s not to love?

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12106940Charlaine Harris‘s DEAD EVER AFTER (urban fantasy): The final Sookie Stackhouse book.  It feels a bit like the end of an era; Sookie was one of the first UF heroines out there, and I still remember devouring the first few Bon Temps books when I first stumbled across them.  But if I’m honest, it also feels like Charlaine Harris has run out of steam in the more recent books, so I’m more than ready for Sookie’s story to come to an end.  I’m avoiding spoilers, BTW (or at least trying to), but I’m also trying to prepare myself based on the rumours.

Sookie Stackhouse has one last adventure in store.

Life has taken her from a waitress in Merlotte’s Bar, Bon Temps, to part owner; from social outcast to the heart of her community; from a vampire’s girlfriend to the wife of one of the most powerful vampires in the state. She has survived earthquakes, revolutions and attempts on her life. Sookie has endured betrayal, heartbreak and grief… and she has emerged a little stronger, and little wiser, every time.

But with life comes new trials…

The question is, in the end: who will love, who will live, and who will be dead ever after?

Sookie finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated. Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.  But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

Out May 7

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13108289Eloisa James‘s ONCE UPON A TOWER (historical romance): Eloisa James is an auto-buy author for me, so a definite yes to this one, even though I haven’t been reading that much historical romance lately. Having said that, I’ve just bought Tessa Dare’s novella ONCE UPON A WINTER’S EVE as it was only £0.40.  I need to watch that impulse buy thing.

Once upon a time…

A duke fell in love

Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross, values order and self-control above all else. So when he meets a lady as serene as she is  beautiful, he promptly asks for her hand in marriage.

With a lady

Edie—whose passionate temperament is the opposite of serene—had such a high fever at her own debut ball that she didn’t notice anyone, not even the notoriously elusive Duke of Kinross. When her father accepts his offer… she panics.

And when their marriage night isn’t all it could be, she pretends.

In a tower.

But Edie’s inability to hide her feelings makes pretending impossible, and when their marriage implodes, she retreats to a tower—locking Gowan out.

Now Gowan faces his greatest challenge. Neither commands nor reason work with his spirited young bride. How can he convince her to give him the keys to the tower…

When she already has the keys to his heart?

Out May 28

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17453991Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold‘s DEATH BY SILVER (LGBT fantasy/mystery): Hilcia’s review @ Impressions of a Reader piqued my interest – it sounds right up my alley.

His practice newly established, metaphysician Ned Mathey can’t afford to turn away any clients. But the latest Londoner to seek Ned’s magical aid gives him pause: Mr Edgar Nevett, an arrogant banker, is the father of the bully who made Ned’s life hell at boarding school. Nevertheless, Ned accepts the commission to ensure the Nevett family silver bears no ancient or modern curses, and then prepares to banish the Nevett family to unpleasant memory again. Until Edgar Nevett is killed by an enchanted silver candlestick—one of the pieces Ned declared magically harmless.

Calling on his old school friend Julian Lynes—private detective and another victim of the younger Nevett—Ned races to solve the murder, clear the stain on his professional reputation, and lay to rest the ghosts of his past.

Assisted by Ned’s able secretary Miss Frost, who has unexpected metaphysical skills of her own, Ned and Julian explore London’s criminal underworld and sodomitical demimonde, uncover secrets and scandals, confront the unexpected murderer and the mysteries of their own relationship.

In Death by Silver, veteran authors Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold introduce a Victorian London where magic works, influencing every aspect of civilized life, and two very appealing detectives.

Out May 25

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16130663FEARSOME JOURNEYS edited by Jonathan Strachan (fantasy): Jonathan Strachan describes FEARSOME JOURNEYS as “…an anthology of adventure fantasy, with a slight emphasis on military fantasy and swords and sorcery” (and has the full table of contents at his blog).  It sounds fantastic, with a great mix of new-to-me authors and familiar names.

An amazing array of the most popular and exciting names in Fantasy are set to appear in the first in a brand new series of Fantasy anthologies featuring original fiction, from the master editor Jonathan Strahan. The authors appearing in the launch volume include Trudi Canavan, Elizabeth Bear, Daniel Abraham, Kate Elliott, Saladin Ahmed, Glen Cook, Scott Lynch, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner & Ysabeau Wilce, Jeffrey Ford, Robert Redick and KJ Parker.

Out May 28

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ETA: Totally forgot to add this digital-only release from Entangled Publishing!

WHEN HONEY GOT MARRIED by Kimberly Lang, Anna Cleary, Kelly Hunter, and Ally Blake (contemporary romance): I wasn’t expecting anything new from Kelly Hunter so soon, so finding out she was a contributor in this anthology was an excellent surprise (and I’ve already bought and finished the book). It’s the romance equivalent of a shared-world anthology (I’m pretty sure there’s a specific term for it, but can’t remember for the life of me) – the other three authors are new-to-me, but as you’d expect, I loved Ms Hunter’s contribution and am already searching out more by Ally Blake.

Four high school friends and a high society bride reunite to celebrate the wedding of the year with the sexy, successful men who steal their hearts and set their skin aflame… A wedding planner should never mix business and pleasure, but Grace couldn’t resist breaking rule number one for a hot night with her high school crush!

Eve hoped to make one last play for the groom-who-got-away…but instead the down-on-her-romantic-luck actress instead found herself in dark corners with his successful, seductive cousin.

The sister of the bride needed a date of convenience and who better than her hazel-eyed, mysterious co-worker? If only Nina could keep her hands off his perfect body until she learned his true identity…

The groom proposed to her eight years earlier, but it was the steamy kiss that Pippa shared with his brother the night she left town that haunted her memories.  Now she’s back and sharing much more than just kisses.

Nothing was going to ruin Honey’s wedding to the man of her dreams.  And she has just the wedding surprise for her beloved groom!

Out now

Books for January

So we’ve just about hit the end of the post-Christmas/New Year period – I think this has to be my least favourite time of year (back to work after a long-ish break, no holidays to look forward to, etc etc), with the only bright spot being that the days are slowly getting longer.

And I have to say that my new releases list for January isn’t that long either.  In fact, if it wasn’t for Kelly Hunter, it would look incredibly depressing.  Talk about January blues.

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17155520Kelly Hunter‘s THE TROUBLE WITH VALENTINE’S DAY (contemporary romance): This is an interesting experiment – it’s actually an expanded version of her first M&B romance, WIFE FOR A WEEK.  From her website:

[…] ‘The Trouble With Valentine’s’, which is my first ever published story (Wife for A Week) writ long – as in I’ve expanded it by 30,000 words. It’ll be released in Jan/Feb in the UK and Aus under the Mira imprint. […] I love this story – it’s the first in the Bennett series – and the expansion explores more of the brothers, more of Jasmine and Kai (the secondary romance) and more of my favourite themes.

I was curious about this because WFAW was the book that kickstarted my Kelly Hunter glom, and despite my reservations about this being the same book recycled in new packaging, I caved and bought it.  I’ll be honest and say I probably wasn’t the ideal audience for this book – I was distracted by the fact it was WFAW II, and probably spent more time flipping between the two books to see what had been added or changed than actually reading the story itself.  If you’re curious, the Jasmine/Kai strand has been expanded significantly (and for the better, IMO), there are nods towards the fact this is being packaged as a Valentine’s Day romance, more mentions of Hallie’s brothers, and some additional scenes between Hallie and Nick.

I think when (because it will probably be when, not if) I do a re-read of this one, it’ll work much better because I’ll be focused on the actual story instead of wondering about the differences. If you haven’t read WFAW and are interested in starting this series, I’d recommend you pick up this version instead – it’s more expensive than a M&B as it’s been published under the Mira imprint, but you can probably get it off Kobo with a discount coupon.

The perfect Valentine’s gift?

As far as women’s fashion accessories went, he was spectacular. A black-haired, cobalt-eyed, dangerous- looking toy who no doubt warned you outright not to bother playing with him if you didn’t like his rules. He was like a Hermes handbag; women saw and women wanted, even though they knew the price was going to be astronomical.

Hallie Bennett likes a challenge, though – and his offer is tempting: $5,000 if she pretends to be his wife for a week. It might not be the most traditional Valentine’s Day proposal… but she’s hardly a traditional girl. Maybe a week in the high life, with a man to match, will be just the ticket. Just as long as she doesn’t start wishing the ‘I do’ is real…

Out now

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15825773Kelly Hunter‘s THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY (contemporary romance): And then the Kelly Hunter that I’m really looking forward to – her debut for the new Harlequin KISS line in the US.  I’d have picked it up regardless of reviews, but I’ve already heard good buzz about this book and it had a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.  It’s also the Dear Author book club pick for February.

Good job? Tick. Newly purchased apartment? Tick. Evie’s life is on a pretty even keel at the moment. The only thing missing? A man with an edge to keep things interesting. Enter Logan Black. Tortured, distant and sexy, Logan has edge written all over him. He’s also the man who tipped Evie over the edge a few years back – she gave him everything, but he didn’t know when to stop taking. Leaving Logan was the hardest thing Evie’s ever done. Until now. Because Logan’s back, the chemistry is as blistering as ever, and this time he’s not going anywhere…

Out January 22

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15742820Julie Hyzy‘s FONDUING FATHERS (cosy mystery): And the last of the January new releases on my list (I did say it was short).  I’ve been following this series since the first book was released, and while I’ve had my ups and downs, the White House setting keeps me intrigued.  If you’re interested, Christina @ Babbling Book Reviews did a series spotlight that summarises all the books to date.

White House executive chef Olivia Paras has enough on her plate. But after gaining new information about her father’s death, the First Family isn’t the only family Olivia is concerned about.

Olivia has always believed that her father was an honorable man—until a trip to visit her mother reveals that he was dishonorably discharged from the army. Olivia is even more shocked to learn that he was brutally murdered because someone at his company suspected him of selling corporate secrets. Refusing to believe that her father was a scoundrel, Olivia won’t rest until she proves his innocence.

Enlisting the help of her boyfriend, Gav, Olivia must reach out to her father’s colleagues to discover the truth behind his murder. What she’s about to discover may not only put her at risk, but threaten national security as well…

Out now (author website)

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.