Book Review: Aura of Magic: Unexpected Magic Book Four by Patricia Rice

Brighid Darrow, Countess of Carstairs, has endured years of a loveless marriage in order to aid her friends and the people of Northridge. Yet once she is widowed, the village shuns her with accusations of witchcraft—vilifying her unique gift of reading auras. Released from past restraints, Bridey rebelliously embraces her dream of establishing a forbidden school for midwives.
Having spent his life being all that is proper in hopes of earning a title in return for services to the crown, Aaron Pascoe-Ives, illegitimate son of a marquess, is ordered to Northridge to save the royal mines from rioters. Any hope of aid from the beautiful but aloof countess is dashed when his incorrigible twins endanger their young lives by following him, mystifyingly insisting that the Countess of Carstairs is their new mother.
Bridey and Pascoe face ghosts, assassins, and riots—but nothing as perilous as the irresistible attraction between them. With hard-fought goals at risk, they must make the ultimate choice between achieving dreams—or losing each other. 

Received from Librarything, in one of their Early Reviewer Batches. I’ve dipped into this series before, and I think the last attempt was a Did Not Finish (Whisper of Magic). However, even though this is now book 4 in the series, this was easier to read, in part because I’m now getting comfortable with the Malcolms, and all their illegitimate cousins, uncles etc.

Before this book starts, Brighid Darrow has endured years of a loveless marriage in order to the older Carstairs in order to aid her friends and the people of Northridge. When she is widowed (again, before this book has started), the village shuns her with accusations of witchcraft – misunderstanding both her education provided by her Grandfather, as well as her gift of reading auras.  The new Carstairs, a week and cowardly man that is manipulated by his brother Oliver incites the hatred even more by claiming that all that has gone wrong on the estate is as a result to Bridey’s talents. With only her brother Fin still living in the area, Bridey looks to embrace her dream of establishing a forbidden school for midwives.

Meanwhile, two of the Malcolm women are due to give birth any day now, and Bridey is staying at Wystan in order to provide midwifery support. It is here that she meets Pascoe, the King’s problem solver, when the latter is sent to deal with a mining and steel production issue in Northridge. Pascoe needs information but is saddled with two four year olds that keep disappearing and who seem to be in conversation with the spirit of their dead mother. He is hoping that he can offload the twins in the house and under the auspices of the extended family whilst he sorts out the issues with the Carstairs mine and furnace.

Wystan is traditionally used for confinement for the Malcolm women, and has its own secrets and traditions – one of which being that unmarried men are not allowed to be residing there when a child is born, as they have a tendency to get a girl pregnant and fall in love (in no particular order). This allows for Rice to allow for her main characters to have Sexy Time in many of her books and this book is no exception.

Back to the story: the miners and foundry workers are on the verge of rioting;Carstairs is blaming Bridey for witchcraft, especially when an axe falls on his head, almost killing him; Carstairs younger brother Oliver seems to have a deeper influence in the situation than anyone realises, and there’s a banshee in the chimneys that is a little more real than anyone gives credit for.  Ultimately, despite all the supernatural talents of the Ives and the Malcolm families, it is a far more “normal” answer to the problems, and one that everyone has to work together to securing a decent resolution.

Pascoe also finds a way of getting what he realises he wants from life – the girl he loves, a new mother to his children, and making her happy (even if it’s technically illegal).

An easier read than the previous book, and I was much happier in completing!

 

#BookReview Whisper of Magic by Patricia Rice

Whisper of Magic by Patricia Rice

The death of Celeste Rochester’s father on the voyage from Jamaica to London leaves her and her young siblings nearly penniless in a foreign country. Forced to battle lawyers for her inheritance and the roof over their heads, Celeste has only one weapon: her mysteriously compelling voice.

Having become a barrister to fight injustice, Lord Erran inexplicably incites a riot with his first impassioned speech. Barred from the courtroom, he acts as solicitor for his brother, the Marquess of Ashford. His first job for Ashford requires moving tenants from his brother’s townhouse—a simple task until Erran meets the uncommon beauty living there and realizes she is under attack.

Erran cannot heave Celeste’s desperate family from their home, even though his blind brother needs the property. Nor can he sit back and watch unseen enemies do the job for him.

Can Celeste trust him to defeat their foe? And if Erran succeeds in saving the lady with the intoxicating voice, can he bear to evict her—when she alone understands the turbulence ruining his life?

Received from LibraryThing via an LTER batch in exchange for a review. This is the second book in the Unexpected Magic series

I have read books by this author before, notably Notorious Atherton and Trouble with Air and Magic. In reading my review of the latter, it seems I had the same issue with that book as I did with Whisper of Magic – coming in on book 2 in the series, there’s a lot of backstory referred to from book 1, but not really explained.  Whist yes, it is a standalone book, there has been the assumption that the reader has read the first book (and recently), which can make the reader a little unsettled.  It turns out that this book is also related to the Trouble with Air and Magic, concerning an earlier and different branch of the same family (in this case, the Ives instead of the Malcolms).

Erran works on behalf of his family as a solicitor – the book has started with him in court, realising that he can use his voice to influence people and essentially cause riots. Celeste has come from Jamaica with her small entourage  – unfortunately her father dies on the trip over, leaving them under the influence of nefarious family members who want to use her estate to pay off their significant debts.  The solicitors magically losing the will, which would make her legitimate, and the main beneficiary of the estate is the start of the problems and it is for Erran and the family to ensure this doesn’t happen.

It turns out that Celeste has a similar skill to Erran, which means that they not only can resist the influence of each other’s voices, but become more in tune with each other as the book progresses.

A side story is the matter of Duncan, a member of Parliament, who has recently become blind (presumably in book 1) and not handling it well. He needs to be closer to Whitehall in order to conduct his business but unfortunately, Celeste has taken a 5 year lease on the house. Some of the book therefore is concerned with working out how to share the house, then making adjustments for a blind man to run his Parliamentary surgery from it.

I have to admit I did struggle with this book, and keeping my interest going, and I think it was mainly due to not having read Book #1. I dont know if I would fare *that* much better, but who knows?

Rendezvous: A Paranormal Romantic Comedy by Elinor Groves

RendezvousWhere Immortals Come to Play…

Annie Bloom runs the newest branch of Rendezvous, an exclusive luxury resort for the immortal fey, and arranges a gala soireé to celebrate its anniversary. Just as a committee from the Board of Directors arrives to evaluate her work, she is surprised by a marriage proposal from her very mortal lover, Sean, who maintains the elegant gardens at Rendezvous.

Juggling the soireé, the committee, a flying horse that wants to eat her garden, several hundred pixies, and an old nemesis, she doesn’t have time for proposals. Then another fey, newly arrived, takes a disturbing interest in Sean. Annie is distraught: should she let Sean go now for his own good, or risk breaking both their hearts later on when he grows old and she remains eternally young?

From the LibraryThing November 2015 Early Reviewers batch, published by Book View Cafe.  Whilst this is marked as a “Romantic Comedy” don’t go in expecting it to be a laugh a minute slapstick romp – it’s rather better than that! Yes situations can be amusing, making you smile, and there’s one sexy romp in a grove, but otherwise it’s a fairly straightforward love story (with added magic).

The setup and execution of the story are done well, with no heavy-handed info dump happening to bring the reader up to speed, and things often only hinted out when classed as ancient history.  Love happens where it happens, so there’s a mixture of love between the sexes (and the non-sexes when it comes to the pixies).    The use of magic makes things easy – so no heavy lifting when tidying up furniture after a raucous party – and the presence of the Rendezvous’ House Steward takes away the boring mundane party preparation that can so easily bore the reader.

Annie is new in Las Vegas and is preparing for the first evaluation of her work by the Board of Directors.  It is the few weeks before, during and after Annie’s exclusively Fey party that is the subject of this book. There’s a new Fey in town, looking for help, but it turns out that people know her from the last time she was in town – and there’s more history with this woman than Annie is prepared to deal with.

Meanwhile, she doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that Sean has proposed to her, and she doesn’t know whether to accept or turn him down – especially when there is talk of banning marriages between Fey and Mortals. In the back of her mind there’s also the wonder whether he is in fact, at least part-Fey himself.   Meanwhile, there are visitors for the party and not all of them are expected or necessarily welcome. Annie also has to deal with the fact that her assistant is intelligent, bright, but rather Mortal, so Annie has to be careful what to do or say in front of her.

This is a good take on the romance novel, with a decent level of humour, so it doesn’t take itself *too* seriously. The Fey world presents enough of a challenge to the reader so as to not to make this a run of the mill romance.  There’s enough scope in this world to make it possible for subsequent books to be written and I would certainly read another one from this author

About this Author

Elinor Groves lives in Northern New Mexico and loves the Southwest for its architecture, views, and restaurants. She has been known to visit Las Vegas, where she enjoys shows and dining and the occasional poker game. She has been writing forever.

 

Book Review: The Rebel & The Ruler by Leilani Darling, Rich Linfield

rebelrulerIn war-torn Judea, merchant Samara has enriched her family, yet money can’t mend her broken heart. The Romans exiled her fiancé Caleb for defying their iron rule, so she’s been lashing out at Rome, supporting the underground rebels. Roman ruler Valerius hunts down the terrorists while struggling with bitter memories of a bad marriage and an unnerving conflict with his brother Marcus Aurelius, soon to be Emperor. Valerius meets Samara on a Jerusalem street as she tries to help an injured boy. His loyalty to Rome is overruled by his passion for her, while her love for this Roman oppressor fills her with shame. Her father is forcing her into a noxious marriage for business reasons, so she asks Valerius to flee with her to Alodia, an African land ruled by women. Can she escape the arranged marriage and wed the handsome, powerful Roman who has stolen her heart? Their flight is halted when he discovers a shocking truth about her, leaving him no choice but to lock her in a Jerusalem dungeon.

Received from the Jan 14 batch from Librarything

Sent as a paperbook, with glossy cover and large print. Nothing to indicate that it’s an uncorrected proof, but I hope it is….there’s a couple of things in the book that put me off a little: a there/their error, which is minor; a slightly bigger problem, unless I have completely missed something…… Samara saves a boy, is spotted by Valerius, then (I think) goes out into the desert to come to terms with what her father is proposing. Then through the rest of the book, there is reference to “the boy’s rescue yesterday”. That niggle stayed with me throughout the rest of the book.

The basic story is decent – a books set in occupied country, the possibility of Hebrew tribes in Africa and China (setting it for another 2 books), the restriction of being a woman in a male dominated society in a Occupied Country. There are some good set pieces – the orphan children for instance, the offspring of Hebrew woman needing protection and the Roman men who have since moved on. This is not a “classic” romance however, and there seems to be a lack of magnetism between the lead two characters (this may be because of the niggle with regards to the timeframe I mentioned above).

My interest in this book dribbled out if I’m honest. Whilst there are some good pieces, overall there was little to bring me to the end, which is disappointing

Book Review: The Aunt Paradox by Chris Dolley

auntparadox

HG Wells has a problem. His Aunt Charlotte has borrowed his time machine and won’t give it back. Now she’s rewriting history!

Reggie Worcester, gentleman’s consulting detective, and his automaton valet, Reeves, are hired to retrieve the time machine and put the timeline back together. But things get complicated. Dead bodies start piling up behind Reggie’s sofa, as he finds himself embroiled in an ever-changing murder mystery. A murder mystery where facts can be rewritten, and the dead don’t always stay dead.

This 100 page novella is the third instalment in the Reeves and Worcester Steampunk Mysteries.

Received as part of the Librarything May 2014 Early Reviewers batch. Published by BookViewCafe and can be brought from them here

Have never read these stories before, but it was soon evident that this is an homage to PG Wodehouse, with a little Sherlock Holmes, Steampunk (in the form of the mechanical Reeves) and Science Fiction (HG Wells as the requisite Bertie) thrown in.

It’s fast paced, silly, and you may be able to find some holes in the forever changing timestream if you wanted to try hard enough (but you dont really, because that would spoil all the fun). Discounting the multiple versions of Aunt Charlotte, there is a limited cast, most of whom in the second half are great-great-great relations of other people, most of whom have turned up dead in Worcester’s flat at some point – resulting in a rather unflattering book and new nickname. As a Wodehouse style novella, the story is short, and characterisation, especially of the secondary characters is not exactly in depth, but this is not a failing of the book by any means. Worcester’s character is easily evidenced by the need of the “emergency gin” bottles hiding around the place and Reeves’ continued attempts to recover the situation, much to Reggie’s dismay.

So if you are in the mood for a short story designed to give you amusement and even some laughs, this is the book for you!

 

 

Book Review: Downside Girls by Jaine Fenn

downsidegirlsThe floating city of Kesh rests above the uninhabitable planet of Vellern. For the Topsiders life is about luxury and opulence, while for those of the Undertow day to day survival takes precedence. Kesh City is a democracy by assassination, where the Angels – deadly state-sponsored killers – remove those unworthy to hold office.

When Vanna Agriet accidentally spills her drink over an Angel it could spell death, but instead it leads to a rather peculiar friendship. The downsider Geal hopes for a better life topside, only to find herself embroiled in a ‘removal’ by the Angel Thiera. Downside, Isha’s brother Rakul brings a little black box home with him, and sets Isha on a journey that takes her to a meeting with the most powerful man in Kesh City. Larnia Mier, a talented topside musician and instructor, is injured after witnessing a removal first-hand. As her abilities diminish, new possibilities open up. ‘Downside Girls’ is a standalone collection of interlinked stories by Jaine Fenn, that also shines new light on characters from ‘Principles of Angels’, Jaine’s first novel in the ‘Hidden Empire’ series. (‘Principles of Angels’, ‘Consorts of Heaven’, Guardians of Paradise’, ‘Bringer of Light’, and ‘Queen of Nowhere’)

Provided by the publishers as part of the LibraryThing‘s early reviewers.

The book is a set of 4 short stories, 3 of which have been published previously and which are linked with Angels – state sponsored assassins – as some of the primary characters.

The 4th story is set in the same world, touches briefly on Angels, but is about a musician and follower of one of the planet’s religions.

One of the questions I ask myself when reading short stories is: would this story have made it in a full novel length? Of the four stories, I think the last one was marginally weaker than the others, in that it was, perhaps a little too short (better at Novella length perhaps?).

The other stories however were much stronger at their presented length and I dont think they would have made it to novel length.

Whilst the stories here are perhaps at the right length as short stories, I think this is a very strong world to build upon, and I would be interested to see if Jaine can/will/has already built a set of stories set in this world.

Book Review: Raiding the Hoard of Enchantment by Dave Smeds

hoard

Raiding the Hoard of Enchantment by Dave Smeds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A full-length collection of high fantasy short fiction by Dave Smeds.

A lover spun from moonlight. A wife banished for carrying the child of a demon. A queen, beheaded ten years ago, whose sage counsel may still save the realm. Here are tales of swords, of magic, of romance. And of the struggle to be splendid of heart whether the opponent be within or without.

Won in ebook format (from Book View Cafe) as part of the May 2012 batch from Librarything‘s Early Reviewers, it consists of a number of short stories, which (judging by the end notes) have been previously published elsewhere.

Occurring in every story, Smeds does seem to like using the word “hiccuped” which I suspect he nor his editor has noticed, probably because the stories have been written over a longer period that if written specifically for this publication. However, that’s just a minor sidetrack.

Each story has a female protagonist, finding themselves in unexpected situations, from the girl who (to get themselves being sold off to pay debts) becomes pregnant by her dream lover; to the girl who travels the world with her uncle who is in possession of a magical book that scribes their lives and thoughts, with always the temptation to find out how it ends.

Doubt that any of the stories would translate into a full length story – i think they are all pitched at the right length and end just at the right time. Not usually a short story fan but think these were most enjoyable

You can purchase the book here