Sunday, August 7, 2011

July Round-up of Books

To say that I’m behind is to put it mildly – we’re a week into August and I’m just now posting my July round-up of books! I’ve been catching up on a lot of reading while out of town, and I’ll be posting a lot of reviews this week, since school will be starting up soon. These are some of the highlights of my reading from the month of July, and all books were either purchased by me or checked out from the library.
Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Sunshine by Robin McKinley While the rest of the books on this list are in no particular order, I absolutely had to list this one first, because it was amazing. It’s been years since I’ve read Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and Beauty, but her writing remains as fresh and inspiring as ever. This novel was published in 2003, but it’s recently been re-released with a new cover, so you’ll have no problems finding it in the bookstores. The novel takes place in a world devastated by the 10 year long Voodoo wars, the result of vampires tiring of constant legal discrimination. The heroine, nicknamed Sunshine, visits her family’s cabin by a lake only to be attacked by a group of vampires who intend to offer her to another as a food source. Sunshine’s escape and subsequent interaction with the other vamp lead to profound changes in her formerly ordinary life. This was a fascinating read that I couldn’t put down and reaffirms my belief that Ms. McKinley is a consummate storyteller.
Black Wings by Christina Henry Fallen Angels seem to be the next big thing in the Paranormal and Urban Fantasy genres, and this novel stands out for its twist on the demonic and the bureaucracy involved in death and dying. This is the first novel in the Black Wings series, and as much as I enjoyed the story, the heroine’s companion gargoyle, Beezle, really stole the show. Madeline “Maddy” Black is an agent of death, an inherited position that has her collecting souls and escorting them to a door that leads to the afterlife. Maddy has black wings that appear when she needs to fly, along with other powers that inconveniently don’t help pay the bills. She’s forced to rent her downstairs apartment to the sexy Gabriel Angeloscuro, but she’s not convinced that he’s completely upfront about who he is, especially since Beezle doesn’t seem to like Gabriel. When Maddy is viciously attacked, Gabriel comes to her rescue, and she learns more about her parentage than she probably wanted to know. A great introduction to a new series, and the second installment, Black Night, is already out and just as much fun as the first.
Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett Arcadia “Cady” Bell is a magician who owns and runs the Tambuku Tiki Lounge, which serves Earthbound demons. Her parents were accused of several vicious murders years ago, and Cady has lived on the run for years. After spotting her notorious parents on the news, she’s worried that she’ll have to hit the road again. When she’s told that if her parents don’t turn themselves in she’ll be given up in their stead as retribution for their crimes, Cady decides to prove their innocence. She’s introduced to Lon Butler, an Earthbound demon and famous photographer, because of his collection of arcane texts that she hopes will identify the demon used in the murders. Their subsequent romance, his charming teenage son, and the astonishing twist at the end make this a real page-turner. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!
Historical Romance
Don’t Tempt Me by Loretta Chase I loved Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels (and it’s still on sale at Amazon for $.99!), so recently I’ve tried a couple of her other books. Don’t Tempt Me has now joined the keeper pile and is an absolute delight. Lucien de Grey, Duke of Marchmount, was the ward of Lord Lexham after the death of his parents, and when Lexham’s long-lost daughter, Zoe Octavia, reappears after 12 years in a harem, Marchmount vows to help ease Zoe’s way back into society. Zoe’s training in the sensual arts make her assimilation into the ton a difficult one, and Lucien’s attraction to her doesn’t help matters any. Both characters were extremely likeable, and it’s so much fun to watch Lucien try to deal with the irrepressible heroine.
The Best Intentions by Candice Hern Ms. Hern has recently started releasing her backlist on Amazon, and when I saw this book on sale for $.99, I couldn’t resist giving it a try. It’s a lighthearted and sweet romance that doesn’t go beyond a few steamy kisses, and the focus on the characters make this novel a pleasure to read. Miles is the Earl of Strickland and a widower with two young daughters. He’s decided that he needs to remarry for the girls’ sakes, but his devotion to his deceased wife makes him leery of seeking another love match. His sister Winifred invites the lovely widow Charlotte and her younger sister Hannah to Miles’ estate in the hopes of enticing Miles into proposing to Charlotte. Unfortunately for the practiced beauty, Miles finds himself attracted to the charmingly enthusiastic Hannah, whose fascination with ancient ruins and rapport with his daughters steal the stodgy Earl’s heart. On a side note, Ms. Hern’s webpage provides lots of fascinating information about the Regency and is an excellent resource for writers and readers alike.
Contemporary Romance
Only Mine (Fool’s Gold #4) by Susan Mallery Ms. Mallery’s books have unfailingly been favorites, and Only Mine is no exception. If you love small town romance, you just can’t go wrong with one of the novels in her Fool’s Gold series. Set in California, Fool’s Gold is a small town that’s short on men, a fact that has caught the attention of the media, resulting in the filming of a reality TV show similar to the The Bachelor. Dakota Hendrix has been asked by the mayor to be the town’s liaison for the show, which is how she meets Finn Anderssen, pilot from Alaska. He’s made the trek to Fool’s Gold to force his 21 year old twin brothers to leave the show, but his efforts are for naught, since the twins are both charming and good-looking, making them primetime fodder. Dakota and Finn strike up what’s supposed to be a no-strings fling, but soon becomes much more complicated. There’s also a sweet secondary romance between twin Sasha and 30 year old accountant Aurelia, all of which combine for a enchanting read that’s very satisfying.
Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D’Alessandro I’ve long enjoyed Ms. D’Alessandro’s historical romances, but her latest contemporary is the perfect beach read. Jamie Newman is a successful manager of a family restaurant in New York City, but when her older half-sister steals Jamie’s boyfriend, Jamie travels over 700 miles to Seaside Cove, North Carolina, for a much needed break from work and family. When she arrives, the bungalow she’s rented is a wreck, complete with leaking roof and rotting clams in the kitchen. Luckily for Jamie, the owner lives next door. Equally fortunately, he’s quite the hunky handyman! Just as Jamie and Nick start to really hit it off, all of Jamie’s family drama descends upon Seaside Cove in the form of her mother, then her niece, and finally her cheating sister. You’ll definitely enjoy seeing how Jamie’s relationships play out in this inviting contemporary romance.

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