Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: What Would Mr. Darcy Do?

What Would Mr Darcy Do?What Would Mr Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I delved back into the Regency period with What Would Mr Darcy Do?. As one of Abigail Reynolds earlier books, I wanted to compare it to Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation which I greatly enjoyed recently (for my review, click here).

Ms. Reynold's skill in writing our favorite couple is, as always, excellent. She writes a passionate Darcy, always more real and earthy than the Darcy portrayed in Austen's novels. This isn't a criticism. Austen wrote as a woman of her time would - an unmarried woman at that. Despite sticking with the Regency lingo and customs (for the most part), the authoress of this book brings the characters closer to the reader of the modern era. In addition, Elizabeth is more vulnerable and more flawed. I like a Lizzy where you can see the cracks in her excellent wit, and underneath, an uncertain woman we can all relate to. Even Georgiana is extremely lovable and accessible in this novel - not just a figurehead to be lamented.

I try not to spoil in my reviews, so I will not say more about the plot. However, this is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice - do not expect too many wild turns. The romance is even too sappy at times, but after some of the angsty things I've read lately, it was good to wallow in the sweet williams and forget-me-nots.

Sweet William, Forget Me Not, Convulvus And A Canary On A Ledge, 1836

The only reason my rating was not higher, was I found that I was left a little bored, as the characters came to an understanding too soon. But then, I'm an angst-glutton, even when I'm taking a break.

Overall, this book is a well-written, fun romp, back into the wilds of Derbyshire and the countryside of Meryton.

On to a revisit to possibly my favorite Darcy ever written - one in only leather pants!

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Unleashing Mr. Darcy

Unleashing Mr. DarcyUnleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'll confess that I didn't know this book existed until one of my many Austenite fan feeds on Facebook began raving about the news that it was being made into a Hallmark movie. As soon as I heard the clever title, I thought, "Darcy plus dogs - fantastic!"

I'm an avid dog lover myself. Our little Shih Tzu Jojo is the center of our lives... and spoiled rotten because of it. So, that being said, I went into reading Unleashing Mr. Darcy with quite the expectations for greatness. To my surprise, I was delighted with what I found!

This is the tail (see what I did there?) that every proper fan of classic literature knows. Boy meets girl, boy insults girl, girl overhears and hates him, boy falls for girl, etc... If you don't know the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy by now - GO READ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Duh.

This variation leads us to the strange and proper world of dog shows. Having attended a few in my day, I can tell you that the passion is there - and so is the crazy! Teri Wilson captures all the aspects of the avid breeder and handler, from the grooming down to the cuddles. And the cuteness... *sigh*

But I'm sure I'm rambling, so on to the characters. Meet Donovan Darcy, billionaire philanthropist and esteemed dog show judge. At first, I really struggled with the renaming of Darcy. My favorite relative in the world was named Donovan. But he was also my grandfather, so trying to get over the name on my part was a serious struggle - and thus I'll just call him Darcy. Still, as a character, Darcy is everything you expect: reserved, arrogant, proud and charming in his own way. He meets Elizabeth at a time when everything in his life is in an uproar and he has lost his beloved control. And the fireworks are fabulous.

My Donovan Darcy - James Franco (with one of the puppies - maybe Pudding?)

Elizabeth Scott (yes another rename, though I'm still not sure why?) is a private school teacher who is very down on her luck. Having been propositioned (sexually and financially) by a student's father, she is currently suspended without pay from her beloved position. Elizabeth is quick, sarcastic, and a little disorganized in life and personality. She is also unwilling to trust anyone and prejudiced. Frustrated and on her 30th birthday weekend to rub in the salt, she seeks refuge showing her sweet Bliss, a Blenheim King Charles Spaniel. And who would be her judge? *wink*

My Elizabeth Scott - Liv Tyler (with Bliss)

I don't want to spoil the book or the Hallmark film. What I will say is I found this an extremely easy read, with lots of fun, a little angst and tons of puppy love (figuratively and literally). The writing is engaging, the plot unique enough to never spoil easily, and the ending sweet. The setting for most of the novel is London and for an Anglophile such as myself, it was perfect in tone for a love story.

The Hallmark film, which I watched a few days later, was a little harder to watch. I tried to go into it with an open mind, but struggled with some of the main changes they made to obviously stay in budget. Still, the core story is there and it's a chic flick to be sure! Only one comment - Hallmark, please stop with the stupid incidental music on endless repeat.

I highly recommend this novel to any romance lover, dog lover, or Austen lover. It is a fast read and you will not want to put it down until you are done!

Next stop for me... another P&P adaptation.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: Lead

Lead (Stage Dive, #3)Lead by Kylie Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of romantic novels around rock stars. I mean, who hasn't been to a concert and dreamed of being backstage with the hot singer on stage, right?

Lead by Kylie Scott is a look into what that situation could be like, but with a few major hiccups.
1) The lead singer is a moody, rude, heartless playboy.
2) Said singer is a recovering addict, on the edge of another disaster
3) You have to live with said singer and deal with his mood and callous behavior, not to mention never, never, NEVER fall in love with him.

Jimmy is the tattooed, tortured, spoiled rock star with a chip on his shoulder. Said chip is addiction. And a disgraceful mother that is in worse trouble than he himself is. Despite being famous and rich, and the lead singer of the hot band Stage Dive, Jimmy is in one of the lowest places of his life. Like a lost little boy, he lashes out when confused or hurt, and bottles up his pain where no one can touch it - that is, save the one person he can't love.

My Jimmy - Adam Levine

Hired for her sass and her mettle, Lena is Jimmy's live-in sobriety companion. Resented by her employer, she doesn't take any crap from him. That is, until the betrayed, broken woman behind the 'tude starts to feel again - this time for the man with whom she promised in her employment contract never to have feelings for.

My Lena - Lisa Loeb

Together, Jimmy and Lena, oil and vinegar, embark on a mission to rid Lena of her "crush". With a rollercoaster of feelings they neither of them is willing to admit, and the looming past pain that will rear its ugly head, this story is full of angst and hope.

Of the Kylie Scott Stage Dive books, I would have to rate this at the top for most angst-ridden. While not my favorite overall of the series, I do truly love Lena's story. She speaks to the reader, and her inner dialog will make you giggle out loud, or cry right along with her.

Next up - a book I've been waiting to read...

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review: Alone with Mr. Darcy

Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice VariationAlone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is extremely fitting that I write up this review in the midst of "the great Blizzard of 2016". Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation is an excellent book to snuggle in front of the fire with, as the snow flakes flutter past your windows, enveloping your world in pure, crystalized white.

A little disclaimer here: I'm an avid Darcyfic/JAFF (Jane Austen FanFiction) fan. I have been reading variations on Miss Austen's works for decades. So I am very picky when it comes to what I like and don't like in an adapatation or variation.

That being said, I truly enjoyed my little romp with Elizabeth and Darcy in this book. I will try to avoid spoilers, but if you have yet to read the book - two words: DO IT. Leave my little silly review and go read. Then come back and see if you agree with me!


Any fan of Pride and Prejudice knows the story forwards and backwards. Elizabeth is quick to judge, Darcy is pompous and withdrawn. But from the beginning of this tale, you are already endeared to the charming, if torn, Mr. Darcy. He fights his feeling for Elizabeth, even as he believes that he cannot possibly deny them much longer. Then, in one of life's coincidences, he is thrown from his skittish mount, injured, and happened upon by the very embodiment of his angst, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

I believe I have read few variations of "Darcy and Lizzie are trapped together alone". But what sets this story apart is the warmth of the characters as they have to endure through a life-threatening, freak snow storm, and the added social disgrace of being single people alone together without chaperon. They manage to escape from the storm into a old cottage, abandoned by the owners in favor of a wedding celebration. We see glimpses of Darcy's humor, Elizabeth's weaknesses, and the attraction that both of them always try to fight (uselessly IMHO).

The cottage

More delight filled me, as I found a personal touch from the author herself. Being a follower of hers for some time, I often read her Facebook updates, and get glimpses into her world. Imagine my surprise when her beloved miracle kitty Snowdrop appeared as a pivotal character in the story!

Snowdrop - photo from Abigail Reynolds website

After the snow subsides, our favorite couple manages to escape unscathed, except for tender feelings. The most heart-wrenching character of all in this story is poor Maria Lucas. While I agree she was a good character to show the seedier side of soldier life, I always feel so sorry for Maria. She's young, impressionable, and easily influenced. I was distressed by what happened to her, but it perfectly set up the foreshadowing of what happens to "fallen women".

My only gripe with this tale is the suddenness and neatness of the ending. While I loved how it ended (have no fear, HEA is there), I was really saddened that it seemed abrupt and contrived. I did enjoy the beach ramble, but everything seemed to tied in a bow.

My favorite supporting role had to go to Darcy's valet Crewe. I would have liked a little more of him to be honest - he is sarcastic, proper and brilliant. Just the type of servant I can see Fitzwilliam Darcy treasuring, especially if Mrs. Reynolds is anything to go by.

Overall, I believe this was my favorite of Abigail Reynolds' books I've read. I would highly recommend it to those JA fans who want a lot of romance, a little angst and a some giggles in their JAFF.

Next up - naughty Rock Stars...

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Theirs to Cherish

Theirs to Cherish (Wicked Lovers, #8)Theirs to Cherish by Shayla Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally - a full-length novel! I've been wanting to read Theirs to Cherish since I first read about Thorpe earlier on in the Wicked Lovers saga. And I wasn't disappointed.

Callie has always interested me in the other novels when she popped up, but mostly because Thorpe seemed totally over the moon for her. This novel is truly her story. She's a feisty, skittish, closed-off little thing, so afraid of her own shadow that you have to feel empathy for her plight. Callie has so many issues, she almost beats Thorpe in that department. ALMOST. She can be a bit bratty, but not enough to constitute all the times she gets called a brat. In the course of the story, I did fall a little in love with her, but her most annoying trait is her constant drive to run from her fears. Granted, once you've read the book, you understand.

My Callie - Anne Hathaway

Next, we are introduced to the Scottish brogue of the blue-eyed boy wonder, Sean. He's head over heels for the little miss, and man, does he have competition there. Sean seemed a complex character, until his truth is revealed in the first quarter of the book. Needless to say, Sean took a back seat for me in this threesome of character leads. Although he is the heart and flowers guy, I always prefer the dark, broken and brooding. Personal preference.

My Sean - Matt Bomer

Last, but never least - Thorpe. *Sigh* This owner of Dominion, the D/S club featured in all of the Wicked Lovers saga, is wolfishly handsome, dangerous and possessive as hell. No one messes with those he protects, and Callie is his own personal "One Ring". I can just here him repeating under his breath, "My precious... my precious..." Mitchell Thorpe is older, weathered, and broken - but none of that takes away his appeal. Honestly, I would pass out from the number of pheromones this Dom must give off when he commands a room! My only gripe with Thorpe is that his commitment-phobia has been overplayed in this type of novel - and his reason are not that brilliant.

My Thorpe - Michael Fassbender

Overall, the plot of this novel is far, far, far fetched. But honestly, I could care less. I couldn't put it down. The writing flows like wine, the characters are compelling and the danger never ceases. It's almost like a road trip film - the chase is on, and there is never really down time when you feel like any of the characters will get their HEA. But that was compelling enough to make me put this near the top of all the Wicked Lovers Saga. And yes, I'm biased - I LOVE THORPE.

Just a heads up, this is another of Shayla Black's novels where there is ménage-action. If you aren't into that sort of thing, it won't be for you.

Time for a change next, I think... perhaps a historical romance?

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Forever Wicked

Forever Wicked (Wicked Lovers #7.8)Forever Wicked by Shayla Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having delved back into the Wicked Lovers saga for the new year's challenge, I didn't know what to expect out of this little novella, Forever Wicked.

We open on the long suffering, bitter billionaire Jason. He's a man who has everything... except his wife. Having been taught throughout life that there is nothing money can't buy, Jason can't understand how he lost his wife within a day of their marriage. I found his character charming and sad in the beginning of the book, then confusing as the plot rolled on. But one thing I can say for Jason - he's sexy as hell. Brood, baby, brood.

My Jason - Tyson Ballou

Gia is the one that got away. At first, I was inclined to hate this character. She seemed callous, deceitful, and cruel. But of course, everything has its reason. Gia is a beat cop by day, good Italian Catholic girl by night. Or so it seems. In the course of the story, you see Gia's sacrifices to her family ideals and her need for right to be done. However, I still found her naive and cowardly. Not my favorite of Ms. Black's characters, but then - not every one can be!

My Gia - Monica Bellucci

Overall, the story is well written and engaging. Again, my only issue with this little novella is my frustration with Gia. Yes, Jason has his faults - he doesn't understand that he cannot just buy his way to solve every problem in life - especially in the emotions department. However, if you are looking for a quick read to rub your angst button, then this is it.

Next up - an actual novel!

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Review: Wicked All Night

Wicked All Night (Wicked Lovers #7.5)Wicked All Night by Shayla Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took a break from my fan-fiction kick to dive back into the mound of TBR I have waiting for me. I wasn't disappointed. Even as a novella, Wicked All Night was a great start to my 2016 read list.

Decker is dark, dangerous and a bit of a puppy dog. He's sweet with an edge that makes you fall a little in love with him from the first moment. His instant possessiveness, drive to protect and serve, and need for justice makes my heart flutter for this enigmatic hottie.

My Decker - Chris Pratt

Rachel is your sweet, innocent, misunderstood school teacher without a way to see a fault in a soul. She's kind to a fault, willing to sacrifice her happiness for even the most undeserving (a.k.a. her ass-hat ex-husband Owen). I would compare her to Jane Bennet - so sickly sweet and innocent that you would want to hate her, but just can't. That, and she seems to instantly see the light inside the dark of Decker, and entices it out.

My Rachel - Odetta Annable

The story is, of course, too short and rushed. It's a novella - always too short for me. But it engages the reader and keeps you smiling until the end. Shayla is known for the danger element of her "Wicked Lovers" saga - not only D/S tempered but often personal safety issues for one or more of the characters. I enjoy this suspenseful element. It doesn't usually feel like she repeats herself, but this story does echo her story of Morgan and Jack from Wicked Ties. It still didn't take away from the narrative for me, however.

As always, Ms. Black has a way with steaming up her bedroom scenes - that's why she makes the big bucks. If you want to feel hot flashes, this is a good read for you. ;)

Off to read the next in the "Wicked Lovers" saga. Like Pringles, once you pop, you can't stop.

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