Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review: The Lady of the Rivers, by Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3)Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself.

This is the first Philippa Gregory book that I have read in years, and I have to say I am a little bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the book wasn't terrible, but I am still disappointed.
The Lady of the Rivers has been sitting on my book case for over a year, and after watching The White Queen on the BBC (their adaptation of the Cousins' War Series), I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

The story follows Jacquetta of Luxembourg, a girl who lived through spectacular events, and witnessed many of them first hand. These events being war, the trial of Joan of Arc, international travel, the reigns and deaths of several Kings, both English and French, a strange marriage, followed by a more regular marriage, and a secretive plan for her witchcraft to be honed and twinned with alchemy, for the benefit of France. The book covers her life from her early teen years right up until her daughter meets the King of England; it felt as if Jacquetta definitely had a story of her own, but that she was used more as an introduction to her daughter's book, which had been written and published before this one. Indeed, as we get closer to the end of the book, the book becomes more Jacquetta narrating her daughters life, rather than merely it being about herself. Whilst this could have been good, I felt it was handled poorly, skipping huge chunks of her life.
By covering such a long time frame, it felt in many places as if the events were being rushed, whilst in other parts, the story dragged on.

Jacquetta is in many ways propelled by the events around her, and a sort of destiny divined from the magic she has. I wanted her to take more control, although obviously she was a woman of her time, despite her proclamations otherwise. And obviously, basing a book upon a real person has its limitations.

I suppose for people who want to read the rest of the Cousins's War series, this book is a great prequel, but on its own, it was definitely lacking, and not Philippa Gregory's best work by far.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Review: Forbidden Forest, by Tenaya Jayne


Born in shame. Cast from society. Shape Shifter/Elf hybrid, Forest must fight for any respect she can get. Targeted in her youth by a vampire noble who placed an illegal slave mark on her, she is forced to obey him, no matter what.

Slipping the grip of her master and abandoning the prejudice of Regia, her native world, Forest takes a job on Earth, guarding the portal, using her skills as a warrior to enforce Regia's laws. Now, called home for a black ops mission, Forest must put aside her own prejudice to transport the vampire prince, Syrus, through enemy territory in a time of war.

Prince Syrus, mage and master of the Blood Kata, wants Forest more than he's ever wanted anything. In spite of their mutual mistrust, their attraction cannot be denied. Through the danger of their mission, and the secrets they both keep, it doesn't matter what they feel. Forest is forbidden.

The first few chapters of this book, I was sceptical, but once Forest makes her way into Regia, and the story begins to progress, I couldn't put it down!! This is an epic fantasy series that has so much potential, with so many elements to be followed up and expanded; Tenaya Jayne should be very proud of her imagination.

Forest is an excellent heroine for this series; she's fiery, passionate and kick-ass, but tormented by the mistakes she's made in the past, and the wrongs that others have enforced upon her, first her hybrid status and then a twisted and abusive relationship with a vampire, Leith, that won't end, no matter how hard she tries. As a shapeshifter, she does not change into an animal, but can manipulate her form as a woman at will. Only one person other than herself will be able to see her true form underneath her magic, her mate- and that suits her fine, as she is able to cover the scars that mark her shame.

Syrus is a direct contrast to those around him of his kind. Blind, but able to use his other senses to more than compensate, he is a mixture of sweet and spoiled, sympathetic and stubborn, adorable and fierce. Forest and this mission challenge him in ways he never imagined, and opens his eyes, literally and figuratively to a whole new side of life.

Watching their humour and temper intermingle as they bicker their way through their mission is hilarious and whilst it is frustrating how they resist their feelings, considering the context of their romance, it is most definitely the right decision on the writers part.

The book diverts away from the main story at just the right moments to show you how everything is progressing in the background; by keeping the reader in the loop like this, it avoids the whole information dump of background stuff that I hate- the reader definitely knows a lot more than both the main characters, which adds to the complexity and enjoyment of the book. A lot of the story development is politically motivated, and the themes of race and power are incredibly well handled; they are there and poignant if you are looking for them, and just a great story if you aren't.

The ending was abrupt, but leaves the door wide open for what could happen in the sequel. I suppose that is what a book is supposed to do when it is the opener for a series- make you all comfy and happy, before dragging you by the hair to the kindle store to buy the next book.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Review: The Duke's Shotgun Wedding, by Stacy Reid

The Duke's Shotgun Wedding'Victorian Era England...

As far as rash decisions go, it was formidable. But Lady Jocelyn Rathbourne's will remains strong. If the only way to save her family's estate and reputation is by aiming a small pistol at the Duke of Calydon, then so be it. For Lady Jocelyn demands satisfaction - and she will have it at any cost. Even if it means demanding the hand of the intense and foreboding Duke himself...

But she's made the first move against a very dangerous opponent...

For Sebastian Thornton is no stripling to be trifled with. The lady has played her hand. Now it's his turn. For Sebastian is in need of a wife. And to find a wife with spirit and fire - even if she means to only marry for his money - would be a great prize indeed. And he intends to thoroughly take his pleasure with her... and demands his own satisfaction in return.'

I'm not gonna lie- when I read the title I laughed and immediately one-clicked to download this novella. My guilty pleasure is most definitely Victorian and Georgian romances with obvious and self-explanatory titles. But, I am incredibly happy to say that this book was not a guilty pleasure- just a pleasure to read.

The book starts in the middle of the action, with Jocelyn aiming a pistol at the Duke of Calydon and demanding marriage to him, even though that was not what she has originally planned. The story is most definitely a love-after marriage tale, and one of the better ones that I have come across. Both the main characters bring their own issues to the table; issues that have forced them into a marriage with a near stranger.

Jocelyn is spirited and amusing, especially in the way she dives full on into every situation. Sebastian, the Duke of Calydon, is alternatively passionate and cold, aloof, imposing and unfathomably kind, yet almost roguish, attempting and succeeding to seduce his new wife at every turn. Reading about their sexual tension and chemistry, as well as their developing relationship, was exciting, often amusing, and always passionate- whether they were happy or angry with each other, Sebastian and Jocelyn are perfectly matched for the force behind their emotions.

The book also acts as a great lead in to Stacy Reid's longer follow-up novel, The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell, which I have already downloaded and devoured. Looking forward to more from Stacy Reid soon!