Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Review of Christina Dodd’s Taken by the Prince

Christina Dodd’s Taken by the Prince was released a few weeks ago, and I just got the chance to read it this weekend. Ms. Dodd writes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romances, and I’ve read nearly all of them.Perhaps I enjoyed this particular historical novel of hers because the heroine of Taken by the Prince has a lot in common with yours truly: Victoria Cardiff is strong-willed, bossy, opinionated, and a real stunner. Okay, well, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad, right?
To be blunt, the premise of this novel is far-fetched. I can only imagine Georgette Heyer rolling in her grave, but it IS lots of fun and the characters really likeable. The hero, Saber (Raul) Lawrence, is the illegitimate son of English Viscount Grimsborough and an unnamed woman from the fictitious country of Moricadia. Moricadia is suffering under the tyranny of the de Guignard family, which unjustly overthrew the rightful heirs to the throne nearly 200 years ago. Prince Saber, sensing that the time is right, has taken full advantage of his stuffy English education and connections and is now ready to overthrow the government of Moricadia and take his place as king.
Victoria Cardiff is the friend of Saber’s half sister, Belle, and early in the novel she and the hero share a smoldering kiss at a ball. He is, naturally, an arrogant jerk, and she gets pretty steamed, particularly since her financial situation forces her to become a governess and she can’t afford any slurs on her reputation. Three years later, the prim Miss Cardiff is accompanying her employer and his family on a trip to Moricadia, where she spots Saber in the hotel. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize that his delusions of grandeur (being a prince, etc) are in fact true, and when she makes a passing comment about said delusions, he decides that he needs to kidnap her until his revolution takes place, since he can’t have her tipping off the truly heinous, scarier than Hannibal Lector-type authorities.
This novel requires more than its share of willing suspension of disbelief, but the fantasy is so delightful I have to recommend it. Clearly Ms. Dodd has imposed 21st century characteristics upon her hero and heroine. Victoria experiences no difficulties in engaging in political debate with Saber and assists her employer with his financial work, and Saber’s willingness to listen to Victoria and acknowledge intelligence and initiative among the female revolutionaries doesn’t exactly ring true for the 19th Century. But the growing relationship between the two protagonists and the portrayal of how the men interact with each other make this fantasy charming. The secondary Moricadian characters are a hoot, and Victoria’s ability to charm them over to her side makes this one of my favorite Christina Dodd historical.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Even Hellhounds Need DentaStyx

Some of the family's hellhounds.
So, after a delightful trip to a foreign language conference where I got to catch up with friends and present a truly atrocious paper, I finally have some time to sit down and read for pleasure. Well, actually, I should be grading papers and writing lesson plans, but why ruin a perfectly good rainy day with work? Besides, this is a short week because of the Easter holiday, and I’m pretty certain that my students have already checked out mentally. It's the end of the semester. All this means it’s time to return to the blogosphere, or, as I like to call it, Procrastination Station.

While out of town at my conference, I picked up a copy of Larissa Ione’s new release, Eternal Rider, the first in her Lords of Deliverance series. This novel was the first of Ione’s that I’ve read, and I am now planning to catch up with the 5 previous novels in her Demonica Series. I’d read a positive review of Eternal Rider on, and I decided to give it a try, since the DH wasn’t with me on this trip and hotel cable pickings are notoriously slim. The premise behind this new series is that the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are in fact demons who could be forces for good or for evil. One of the horsemen, Pestilence, has already turned evil (through no fault of his own – hard to figure how but it is presented in a believable manner), and his actions set off the beginning of the apocalypse. If his two remaining brothers and sister turn evil as well, the demons will win and humankind will face the end of the world as we know it.
This first installment in the series focuses on Ares, who will become War if he turns evil, and Cara, a human with the ability to heal animals. They meet when a tobacco chewing redneck finds an injured hellhound and drops it off at Cara’s place. She heals the hound and names him Hal, for his hellacious halitosis. Ares then saves her from human Guardians who, believing her to be a demon because she helps Hal, are trying to question/kill her. Naturally, some demon-human lovin’ ensues and the fate of the apocalypse and therefore the world depends on their getting it on. Cue the Barry White…
But seriously, I truly enjoyed the novel, particularly the hellhound aspect of it. I do have a soft spot for smelly dogs, which clearly has worked out well for my beagle, and the appearance in the novel of Cerberus, the three-headed dog guardian of Hell, was a hoot. Cara’s soft spot for odoriferous pooches saves the day, and Ares manages to fall for her and thus postpone the coming apocalypse a bit longer. Better living through demon loving? Sure, why not! Either way, it was an enjoyable read, which leads me to the second part of my post.
Once home from the conference, I went online to see about reading Ms. Ione’s backlist. She’s published five novels in her Demonica Series, and they all received good reviews, so I thought I’d purchase the first in the series and start catching up. Eternal Rider is the first in her new series, but it is related to her earlier novels and characters from those novels make an appearance in the new book. As an aside, I should point out that I greatly appreciate Ms. Ione’s skill in crafting this new novel so that as a new reader I was able to follow along without getting lost or her having to resort to an information dump.
My question now becomes, how do I catch up? All the Kindle versions of her books are set at $6.99 per book, thanks to her publisher setting the price. The paperback versions are also $6.99, but they’re eligible for Amazon’s 4-for-3 special, which allows you to purchase 3 qualifying mass market paperbacks and receive a fourth one for free. They even qualified for free shipping! I’m sure you can see my dilemma. Should I spend $6.99 a book and have them instantly downloaded to my Kindle, or wait several days and get four books for only $21?
The plot thickens, if you will, because I just purchased Amanda Quick’s new release, Quicksilver, for my Kindle at $12.99 (I enjoyed it and recommend it, even if the sticker price hurts). Amanda Quick is pretty much an auto-buy for me, but Larissa Ione is a new author, so I’m less willing to shell out the big bucks. In the end, I went for the 4-for-3 deal, because it means I’ll have enough money to purchase either the fifth book in Ione’s series or another book by a different author.
Since receiving my Kindle as a gift, I haven’t purchased many print books from Amazon, because the instant gratification of the Kindle is addictive (it’s like crack cocaine!). I have purchased print books from Wholesale stores, such as Walmart and Target, but those are usually impulse buys. I don’t necessarily feel guilty for “cheating” on the other man in my life, my Kindle, because those student papers won’t grade themselves, but I have to wonder why the publishers are so insistent upon setting higher prices for electronic books. In the end, I’m still buying the books, and the author will still receive her portion of the sale, but Amazon is the one profiting most from my business. It’ll be interesting to see when and how this type of dilemma is resolved in the future.