Short version: pretty good batch.
Long version:Meljean Brooks
- "Heart of Steel". Oh, that one was such a disappointment. Her first intallment in the steampunk Universe, "The Iron Duke," is one of the rare romances I genuinely love. I was looking forward to reading about the lady airship captain/pirate Yasmeen and the archeologist adventurer Archimedes Fox, who were minor characters in The Iron Duke. Alas, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. HoS feels like it has a concept and outline of a good book but it's like a frustrating outline - nothing is fleshed out enough - not the conspiracy, not the characters and their relationships or their past. The books is simply too short. Yasmeen is not my type of heroine but I liked her OK - I just didn't know enough about her to get invested. And Archimedes would normally be the character type I'd go rabid for but the same applied to him - I didn't know enough about him to care. The reason The Iron Duke worked so well for me was that the amazing world-building was combined with the leads I loved and felt were real - Mina and Rhys felt like fully-drawn people. Also, and a little surprisingly, this book is very low on sex scenes. I don't need sex scenes in my books but just a little warning if you are looking for something 'spicy.' Anna Campbell
- "Captive of Sin." Lady Charis escapes from her abusive stepbrothers who seek to marry her off for her fortune and is rescued by Gideon Trevithik, a recently returned 'acclaimed war hero' who is more messed-up than any hero I've come across all year, or close. For one, he cannot bear to be touched by anyone. I adored this book mainly because this is pretty much one x-rated hurt/comfort fantasy. If ever a novel catered specifically to my kinks, this is it - mmmmm, so perfect. Also, it's a good character piece - Charis and Gideon both feel very real and are just such very good
people - genuinely good and noble despite some horrible stuff in their past. I rooted for them like mad. Marsha Canham
- "Blood of Roses." This is a sequel to The Pride of Lions and I shocked myself by loving this book to bits, seeing that TPoL left me pretty cold - I didn't dislike it, I just wasn't smitten. I'd say skip TPoL and go straight for this awesome novel. In TPoL, Catherine Ashbrooke, a spoiled English noblewoman was forced by her father to marry a Scottish nobleman, Alexander Cameron, after they were caught in a compromising situation. Love bloomed, bad guys were overcome, blahblah and you'd think they'd settle to a life of married bliss, only - the year was 1745. (Side note: is there a whole subgenre in which English ladies marry Scottish aristocrats who get involved in Jacobite uprisings? First there were the Kilgannon books by Katherine Givens (even if the uprising there was 1715 and the characters quite different) and now this. Seeing how much I loved both Kilgannon books now BoR, I think I need to delve more into this). At the end of TPoL, Alexander sends Catherine back to England for safety, telling her that if she wants to, she can pretend to be a widow, and himself joins the rebellion. This is where BoR starts. I loved loved LOVED this book. Alexander mellowed out and Catherine grew up, so their relationship was that of true equals. There are real obstacles and danger and angst. Plus, I am a sucker for the 'couple already committed facing the world together' trope which happens pretty rarely in romance or other novels (maybe because I am an old married lady, but the 'falling in love' part of the story rarely catches my attention). There are battles, angsty separations (and hot reunions), more h/c than you can shake a stick at, and just general awesomeness. Warning: the death-toll in this one is huge. Meredith Duran
- "Written on Your Skin" and "Bound by Your Touch." Ah, Ms. Duran, I thought we could be friends after I read your "A Lady's Lesson in Scandal" (about a working class woman who discovers she is a long-lost daughter of an earl). I loved that book. But I am forced to conclude it was a fluke because both Skin and Touch were drowning in overwrought prose, had hero and heroine I disliked, and nothing happened. Sure, there is a pretence of a plot (faked Egyptian antiques and shady businessmen being hunted by spies, respectively) but blah. Roberta Gellis
- "Siren Song" - more of a history novel than a romance, I loved this one. A nobleman is sent by Henry III into a household of one of Henry's brother's retainers to check if the retainer is plotting treason. Nobleman falls for retainer's pretty, pragmatic daughter, but the real focus is on William and Elizabeth - the retainer and the wife of the neighbor who loved each other years ago. The characters are well-drawn, the medieval world feels real and so do the mores, and I loved every character I was supposed to love. Go read it now. Elizabeth Hoyt
- "To Desire a Devil" - in addition to 'English lady falls for Scottish rebel' subgenre, there also must be a 'heroine falls for PTSD soldier' subgenre. I love this subgenre, apparently. Reynaud was missing for 7 years as a result of the French and Indian War and presumed dead. In reality, he was a captive of an American Indian tribe and he's finally made his way home to reclaim his title and discover who betrayed his regiment. The common-sense, smart Beatrice, the niece of the person who 'inherited' the title in his absence might help with that (as well as help convincing society he isn't mad). Despite the book title, both Beatrice and Reynaud are good people who do not need reform, even if hero needs to learn to open up - both to emotion and about his trauma.Shannon McKenna
- "Edge of Midnight." girlfriday10
, where are you? This book has your name all over it. Anyway, if you love super-alpha heroes beyond devoted to the tough heroine, this is the book for you. Our hero Sean, former mercenary/soldier/stuntman/every other alpha occupation known to man, has only two regrets - one is the apparent suicide of his twin brother years ago, and the other breaking the heart of Liv Endicott, the only woman he's ever loved, in order to save her life. Only now Liv's life is under threat again, they are thrown together, sparks fly etc - this is not erotica but it comes close - this book has a hella very graphic sex. It's pretty graphic in other ways - a gruesome killer and a demented scientist both figure prominently. Heroine is a badass who dispatches one of the two chief bad guys, I loved the hero, and this is a fun fun ride. Secondary OTP made me want to drown them (she was too dim to exist and he was a jerk) but we can't have everything. I think I might seek other books in this series. Terese J. Reasor
- "Highland Moonlight." Why does every hero of a Scottish romance get named Alexander? I know Scotland was a poor land, but I am sure they could afford more than one name! Anyway, this is pretty low-key but likeable medieval romance of the protagonists learning to work out the issues in their marriage and get past understandable trust issues.Patricia Veryan
- "Time's Fool" and "Had We Never Loved." I was just rereading these - part 1 and 2 of the Tales of the Jeweled Men. I talked about them elsewhere so I will just say they are just as good on the umpteenth reread - I adore the heroes and the heroines and the supporting characters and the adventure and the romance.