donderdag 29 januari 2015

Karen Hawkins – The Prince Who Loved Me

The first book in the Oxenburg Princes series, published September 23, 2014.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: nice

The Prince Who Loved Me photo w517005_zpsf2e024e4.jpg

Romance sizzles in this Cinderella story set in Scotland, the first in a sparkling new spinoff series from New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins.
Prince Alexsey Romanovin enjoys his carefree life, flirting - and more - with every lovely lady who crosses his path. But when the interfering Duchess Natasha decides it's time for her grandson to wed, Alexsey finds himself in Scotland, determined to foil her plans. Brainy, bookish, and bespectacled, Bronwyn Murdoch seems the perfect answer - she isn't at all to the Duchess's taste.
Living at the beck and call of her ambitious stepmother and social butterfly stepsisters, Bronwyn has little time for a handsome flirt - no matter how intoxicating his kisses are. After all, no spoiled, arrogant prince would be seriously interested in a firm-minded female like herself. So...wouldn't it be fun to turn his "game" upside down and prove that an ordinary woman can bring a prince to his knees...


I am not a fan of fairy tale retellings, I very rarely can see the similarities. But I could in this one. Bronwyn is the oldest daughter, taking care of her father’s work, filing his patents and doing his correspondence, while her stepmother and stepsisters happily socialize and spend money buying clothes. Still, they did all love each other and I was glad for that.

Bronwyn is quite content with her life, reading is her passion and she has two enormous dogs as her companions and guards. So when she encounters a man who is so like her favourite hero, she allows him to kiss her. She has no idea he is a real life prince! Alexsey has no intention of ever marrying, but he does like spending time with Bronwyn and is determined to seduce her. He wants to be the gypsy king, as his grandfather was before him (his father, the King of Oxenburg, married a Gypsy girl). But his grandmother wants him to prove himself, and by that she means getting married, before she allows him to be their leader. So when escorting his grandmother in Scotland, Alex thinks Bronwyn a nice diversion from his boredom, but he doesn’t know that Bronwyn overheard him planning with his friend Starthmore and is out to seduce him instead.
Bronwyn’s stepmother is delighted at the house party next door, and the opportunity for her two daughters to get some society polish before their own seasons in London. She is also determined to snatch the prince for her Sorcha. They make such a lovely couple!


I did enjoy this book more than I anticipated. It was not a stale story like I have read numerous times before, the characters kept it fresh and new, and Bronwyn was such an amazing character. She was sweet, enjoyed helping her father and sisters, loved reading her romance novels and dreaming a little. It was the prince who opened up her eyes about her own future though. What would she do when her sisters got married and moved away? They would not need her anymore.

I really liked the romance part, and all the secondary characters. I will read the next book soon.

8 stars.



Autobuy authorLove this book

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian


dinsdag 27 januari 2015

Anthology: Night Shift

A collection of stories by Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Nalini Singh and Milla Vane, published November 25, 2014.
Genre: urban fantasy / paranormal romance
Cover: sweet

 photo w521371_zps389cd662.jpg

Nalini Singh – Secrets at Midnight

New York Times best-selling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight, as the scent of Bastien Smith's elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that's as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he's found his mate, he'll do anything to keep her.

Perhaps a very predictable story, but I loved it nonetheless. I have to admit I can’t remember Bastien from previous books in this series, but he is delectable, and he has some bachelor brothers, so there could be more sweet stories in the future. I liked Bastien’s mate, Kirby. She did not have a good childhood, living in the foster care system, but she is a very sweet woman and she can handle Bastien. To tell more would spoil the story for those who do not find it predictable.

Ilona Andrews – Magic Steals

In one New York Times best-selling author Ilona Andrews' novella Magic Steals, when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

I have enjoyed another short story about Dali, who is half-blind and still races cars, and Jim before, and this one was even better. We get to see Dali in action. Dali is Balinese, and she is blessed with some kind of holy magic, to fight evil. She is all about preserving balance. Usually she uses calligraphy to craft her curses, but this time, a more direct approach is needed. And now someone is using black magic to kill people, and Dali is the one who can defeat him. Jim has never seen his white tiger in action, and he sure is in for a treat. But he won’t back down, and he won’t be scared away, even when an enchanted car tries to eat him.

Fascinating little story, and a lovely love story all in one. I will re-read this one for sure.

Lisa Shearin – Lucky Charms

It's seer Makenna Frazier's first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince's bachelor party goes every which way but right in nationally best-selling author Lisa Shearin's Lucky Charms.

The prequel to the first book in the SPI files series, and this was a fun read. The book hints at this story a few times, so I am glad I had the chance to read about Mac’s first day on the job. We are introduced to a lot of intriguing characters, and I would not mind reading more about the goblin mage.

Milla Vane – The Beast of Blackmoor

In Milla Vane's The Beast of Blackmoor, a warrior princess must tame a savage beast to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.

I DNF-ed this story, I really disliked the first two chapters and did not want to try for more.


Of course I had to buy and devour this anthology, three of my favourite authors with new stories for me to read, and one new to me author to try. I really enjoyed my favourite author’s new stories and am glad I read them. And perhaps if you try this book, you will enjoy the fourth one as well.

8 stars.



Autobuy author

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 25 januari 2015

Recommendations from Karin for January 2015.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.

Karin:

I’ve read 8 new books this month (and only one of them was memorable!) and numerous old and beloved ones. This month I just needed to relax and enjoy the books I know (sometimes almost by heart because I re-read them so often!). I know of some people who give their books away once they have read them but that’s not me – oh, no!
Anyway, the books I would like to recommend are:

1. Grave Draven – Radiance

 photo RadianceCover-216x300_zpsnc7koycg.jpg

2. Lisa Marie Rice – I dream of danger

 photo n413755_zpsbyjmkabh.jpg

3. Lisa Marie Rice - Nightfire

 photo n389529_zpspqm5ttah.jpg

What can I say about “Radiance” that I haven’t already said before? Draven wrote that as a serial on her website and I waited long and impatiently to be able to purchase the book. It is the story of Brishen and Ildiko, two “unimportant” people from royal families who are wed to seal a contract.
They are from different races and each conceives the other as ugly in appearance. But they manage to do what so many people can’t – to look deeper, to see what is good, strong in character and loveable in the spouse.
This book is about love and acceptance of differences but it is also suspenseful, violent and the best about it – there is at least another book coming up. “Radiance” ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it’s a mild one. The blurb of the next book sounds simply great!!

As for the other two books - I re-read them because I like them but also for the upcoming LLC. They are both great novels with strong alpha heroes and feisty heroines and I really recommend reading both series.
But what’s more – I re-read them because I’m so looking forward to meeting Lisa Marie Rice again. I met her at the first LLC and found her to be a warm-hearted and exceptionally humurous writer. I approached her when I met her and Shannon McKenna in a restaurant – something I would normally not do because I think it’s impolite. Still I did it and both ladies were so very friendly and we had a blast of a time during the first and second LLC.

I’ll be talking about Shannon McKenna’s McCloud series hopefully next month because I don’t want this post to get too long – so, consider yourself warned!

As for the LLC – I really hope to meet one or perhaps even several of the readers of this blog. I think you rarely have a chance to meet so many excellent, friendly and approachable writers anywhere else in a manageable distance in Europe.

So until next month I hope you have lots of good books to read!

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I have bought some Lisa Marie Rice novellas to try for Berlin myself and I sure hope I will enjoy them.



Banner 2015 photo BannerLLC2015versie5_zps31bfcccb.jpg

Read for #LLC2015
For more info look: http://www.loveletterconvention.com/en/

© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 24 januari 2015

Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris – The Janus Affair

The second book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, published May 29, 2012.
Genre: steampunk
Cover: great

The Janus Affair photo n394763_zps77cc1f07.jpg

Evildoers beware! Retribution is at hand, thanks to Britain's best-kept secret agents!!
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain's latest hyper steam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance . . . with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown.
The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books . . . and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.


I have really fallen for this genre lately, combining historical times with technology and adventure and danger and fun inventions and automatons and especially dirigibles (some kind of zeppelins / hot air balloons with a steam engine).

This is the second adventure Mr. Wellington Books and Miss Eliza Braun are experiencing together, and it was fun and exiting to read. Apparently, back home in New Zealand, Miss Braun was a member of the suffragette movement, and a close friend to its leader. Here in London she is no stranger to the movement either.

Wellington and Eliza are returning from an adventure in Scotland by hyper steam train, when a woman Eliza knows vanishes into tin air after something like a lightning bolt hits her in the middle of the aisle inside the train. The passengers around her are affected by sunburns. So when Eliza is asked by Kate Sheppard, her friend from New Zealand, and here in London to speak to the English suffragettes, to look into things, she promises to help. This was not the first woman who has gone missing, but no one is taking it seriously. Especially not their fellow Agent who is supposed to research the cases.

Investigating this case is difficult, as they have to do it in secret, so their boss doesn’t find out. Also, there is not much to go on. One of the lady suffragettes is Diamond Dottie, one of London’s biggest criminals. She runs a big ring of female thieves and such, and is very successful in her chosen line of work. Eliza thinks her a good suspect although Wellington does not agree with her, but after Eliza gets attacked in her own home by some of Dottie’s assassins, they have to act. With the help of the Ministry Seven, a bunch of street kids that Eliza uses as her spies on the street, they manage to break into Dottie’s home.
But Dottie is not behind it, and to Eliza’s surprise, she even helps her when Wellington has been taken as well... He was too close to figuring out who really was behind it all ...


I really enjoyed this story. It was a great adventure, and the mystery was not easy to solve. In fact, the reasons behind the abductions were made by a crazy woman, so no one will be able to solve it before our heroes find out. I loved how Eliza and we learn more about Wellington Books and his past. He is not as stuffy as Eliza thinks he is. He is a decorated hero from the Boer Wars, and a sharpshooter. He might not like guns, but he sure knows how to use them. And he is quite the inventor of gadgets himself.
I also like Eliza’s housekeeper/maid Alice a lot. She lost her legs in an accident, and now has prosthesis legs, with some surprises build inside.
And then there is Kate Shephard’s son Douglas. Eliza’s first love has come back for her, but Eliza doesn’t need nor want a man to take care of her, she is perfectly able to take care of herself, and of the Realm. As she has proven a few times. So when Douglas wants to treat her as she was when they first meet and she was just a starry eyed teenager, that does not sit well with her. Eliza also starts to realise she does have feelings for Wellington.
Another villain is Sophia de la Morte, who keeps popping up again, and who is working for the Maestro. The real super villain behind it all. He also has the Duke of Essex in his pocket, the Queens’ personal secretary, and an enemy of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. He needs access to something archived in the restricted area, and the Ministry to be shut down.

A common enemy makes allies out of other enemies, and that makes for some great reading. Especially when Sophia makes a pass at Wellington.

This is a really good mix of action and suspense with a dash of romance thrown in, but most importantly, great characters and a good plot. And really weird and evil villains. I can’t wait to find out who is the real puppetmaster.

9 stars.



A blogger made me buy itLove this book

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 23 januari 2015

Eileen Wilks – Mortal Danger

The second book in the World of the Lupi series, published November 1, 2005.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: blue

 photo n140876_zpsb2cf0e95.jpg

USA today bestselling author Eileen Wilks returns to the fascinating world she introduced in Tempting Danger, and takes readers to the very edge of passion and suspense – where deception and betrayal can not only place your life in jeopardy, but your very soul in mortal danger...

Former homicide cop Lily Yu has a lot on her plate. There’s her sister’s wedding, a missing magical staff with unknown powers, and her grandmother’s sudden decision to visit the old country just when Lily could use a little advice. Maybe she should turn to the man she’s involved with, but for all the passion that flares between them, she doesn’t really know Rule Turner. Yet she’s tied to him for life, both of them caught in an unbreakable mate bond.
That Rule is a werewolf, a prince of his people, only complicates matters.
Now an agent in a special unit of the FBI’s Magical Crime Division, Lily’s job is to hunt down Harlowe, a charismatic cult leader bent on bringing an ancient evil into the world. But what Lily doesn’t realize is that Harlowe has set a trap – for her. And then the unthinkable happens.
In the blink of an eye, Lily’s world divides and collides, and she is thrust into a new and frightening reality. Her only hope will be to trust Rule – and herself – or Lily will be lost forever...


Even though Lily killed the mad priestess Helen, cult leader Harlowe managed to get away with the staff she used to control people’s minds. Their new mission is to find Harlowe, and destroy the staff. A new team member is added, Cynna, who is a Finder.
But first, she has to survive her sister’s wedding, and her family. So when she sees a woman who looks exactly like Helen, she has to follow her to find out who she is. But before she can do that, she is ambushed in the ladies room, and when she wakes up, there is a faint demon taint near her shoulder wound. How can that be? Has she been possessed?
Luckily, the lupi’s Healer, Nettie, shows up in the hospital to take care of Lily, and to determine if she is possessed by a demon. Which she is not. But still, everytime Lily touches her shoulder wound (she was shot in the previous book), she feels a taint, which worries her.

While Lily is working the case, Rule needs to stay close to her, because the mating bond does not stretch too long, although the boundaries are widening. Cynna used to date Rule 10 years ago, and she is very surprised that he is monogamous now. That is not a lupi custom at all. Lily is not allowed to talk about lupi secrets to outsiders, so she can’t explain things to Cynna. Rule has to take care of lupi business as well, and he doesn’t share those things with Lily. He is very highhanded in making sure she is followed and protected, even though she really does not need it. But when Harlowe abducts her little sister and forces Lily to come to him, Rule and his werewolf friends are able to follow them and come to their rescue. Of course protecting Lily also means hindering her, she can’t take a shot at Harlowe. And when he hits her with the staff, it burns, and when Cullen fries him with mage fire at the same time, reality rips open...


I really don’t want to spoil the rest of the story, but it is good and awesome and totally unpredictable. Ancients, demons, hell, surviving, dragons, shooting and blowing things up. This book has it all, with lots of twists and surprises.

This series is fast going to become one of my favourites, and I can’t wait to dive into book 3 and find out what will happen next. Will Cullen and Cynna become an item? Will Cynna become the next Rhej? And how come a dragon knows Lily’s grandmother? What does the Goddess want with Lily?

The one thing I did not like, was Rule, and his habit of not telling Lily things she needs to know, and being so highhanded. I sure hope he gets his act together, and finds out that a life mate is more than protecting the mate. Lily needs to know more about him, about the lupi and her new clan, and what he is doing.

9 stars.



Love this book

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 22 januari 2015

Nalini Singh – Shield of Winter

Book 13 in the Psy-Changelings series, published June 3, 2014.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: I hate this big one, my book has the smaller cover, and it has added deleted scenes.

Shield of winter photo w495653_zps1c5c12da.jpg
Shield of Winter 2 photo 0425264017_zps3aa24c16.jpg

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he's done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch - if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.
For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake...
Having rebuilt her life after medical 'treatment' that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption.
But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy's fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness...


The disease in the Net is spreading, making Psy violent murders. Lots of innocent victims die, whole villages disappear from the Net. The Arrows and Councillor Kaleb Krychek try to contain the outbursts as quickly as possible. The Psy doctors are still trying to find a cure, but so far, all the infected Psy die. And it is spreading faster and faster. Desperate measures are necessary. It is time for the hidden Empaths of the Psy race to be awoken to their gifts, in order to save them all.

Ivy is one of those Empaths, she has been rehabilitated/reconditioned once, but slowly she is coming back to her senses, living with her parents and her little dog in an orchard. In a sort of back to basics community with other Psy who have left the city for one reason or the other. So when suddenly an Arrow appears before her, Ivy is terrified. She won’t survive another reconditioning.

They find 10 Empaths who want to try being an Empath, each with his or her own Arrow for protection. And with the help from Sasha Duncan from Dark River, to help them on their way. It is not easy to loose all the conditioning from an entire lifetime and embrace your emotions, and figure out a way to help others with theirs. But slowly they make progress, while growing closer to their Arrows as well. And being with an Empath, certainly helps the Arrows become more human again, a step further away from total darkness...

Of course it is not easy, and they discover that there are different grades of Empaths, and different skill sets. But Ivy is the strongest of them all, and really suited to this problem, calming down large crowds of people in a panic. But this is only the start, they need to cure the disease in the PsyNet itself, before it is too late.


Nalini Singh keeps surprising me with this series, going in directions I never see coming. I have to admit I had some problem with liking Ivy, and the romance between her and Vasic. But they really grew on me, and how they handled everything that came their way, like the Psy who want to assassinate the Empaths, as they blame all the problems on them. I liked the interaction with the Changelings of course, and well, it is just such a good story and series!

If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? I am looking forward to book 14. Bring it on Nalini!

8 stars.



Autobuy authorLove this book

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 21 januari 2015

Interview with Susan Elizabeth Phillips for #LLC 2015

Hi, we are Aurian and Freya, and today we have Susan Elizabeth Phillips visiting us here in Utrecht, Holland.

Banner 2015 photo BannerLLC2015versie5_zps31bfcccb.jpg

Of course you want to know, what is LLC 2015? It is short for LoveLetter Convention 2015, and it takes place in Berlin, Germany, on May 2 and 3, 2015. There are lots of German authors attending, but there are also some really nice (and famous!) authors from America, Canada, England and Australia.

We had a blast in the previous 3 years, and to add to the advance fun of the event, we have decided to do some interviews with the authors we will be meeting. Some of them are attending for the first time; others had a great time in a previous year and are coming again! So if you have the opportunity to visit Berlin for some sightseeing, why not attend the convention as well? Or let your family do the sightseeing, and you do the convention. If you want to check it out, here is a link to the website:
http://www.loveletterconvention.com/en/

Our guest today is Susan Elizabeth Phillips, author of many contemporary romances and two historical romances in the start of her career.

Aurian: Welcome to Utrecht, Susan. Would you like something hot to drink in this cold weather? Hot chocolate with whipped cream, tea or coffee? And of course some Dutch cookies.

Susan: Dutch cookies! I love them! And a good strong cup of tea to go with.

Freya: Can you tell our readers who might not yet know you or your books, a little about yourself? Something that is not in your official bio.

Susan: I don’t think there’s anything my readers don’t know about me because I tend to be very open. I am a terrible singer. How about that?

LLC 2015 questions:

Aurian: Could you tell us why you are attending a convention in Europe? Have you been in Berlin before? Were you surprised at being invited to a convention this far away?

Susan: I was in Berlin when I toured in Germany in 2011, but I was only there for a day. This time I’m going to be able to visit longer. I loved being invited to LLC, but I wasn’t surprised just because I have so many readers in Germany. (And I love every one of them!)

Freya: Berlin is a beautiful city with a rich history. Are you planning to do some sightseeing before or after the convention, or touring the country? Or is this convention part of a larger booktour through Europe?

Susan: I am planning to do sightseeing in Berlin, but this is also part of a larger tour in Germany and Spain. Munich, 4/5; Hamburg 5/5; Hanover 6/5; Koln 7/5; Kerpen 8/5; Barcelona, 11/5; Malaga, 12/5; Madrid, 13/5. Yeah!

Aurian: That is quite some tour Susan, I hope you enjoy it!
If you could see only one monument/famous building/historical place in Berlin, what would it be that you absolutely have to see?

Susan: Probably Museum Island (maybe this is cheating!) since I love art museums so much.

Freya: O Aurian and I are planning the same thing, we both want to see the Egyptian musuem.
You have been hiking in Holland! Where did you go, and would you like to come back some day?

Susan: My sister and I took an incredible walking trip to the Netherlands in 2010. In addition to visiting the Keukenhof Festival, Haarlem, Utrecht, and Amsterdam, we hiked in several of your beautiful national parks. My favorite experience, however, was a long hike through the Kinderdijk Windmills on a very cold, rainy day. Magical.

SEP photo SEP_zps03010ccd.jpeg

Aurian: That is so cool, you visited our own city! I am glad you enjoyed spending time here.

:Book questions by our friend Karin from Austria::

Karin: You started writing quite some time ago. Do you feel the attitudes of your heroes and heroines have changed over the years? If so - how?

Susan: I’ve always loved strong, alpha heroes and feisty heroines. The characters now have, perhaps, more depth than in the early days of my career, but they continue having strengths and flaws we all can relate to.

Karin: Your most successful books are those that evolve around the Chicago Stars. Is there a chance that you continue this loosely connected series - perhaps with books about Phoebe's twins?

Susan: I am currently beginning work on another book connected to the Chicago Stars. (Even though I said I was done.)

Karin: Your latest book seems to be a stand alone novel with quite a gothic feeling to it. Is that something you want to explore further or are you planning to return to the light humorous contemporary romances?

Susan: I never know what I’m going to do. I write about whatever is currently fascinating me and hope my readers will come along with me on the journey.

Karin: Have you ever given thought of writing something completely different from your "usual" books - maybe try fantasy or some such under a pen name?

Susan: No. No. No. No. I love what I do!

Thanks for the interview Susan! We do look forward to meeting you in Berlin, and we certainly have some books for you to sign!

- Author picture -
Susan EP photo susan-244x300_zpsc6ab9fc8.png

Where to find Susan Elizabeth Phillips?
website: http://susanelizabethphillips.com/
twitter: @sepauthor
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanElizabethPhillipsNovels

- bio –

I usually post the authors bio in my interviews, but although Susan’s bio is really fun and interesting to read, it is way too long to add to this interview. So, if you are interested, you can read it: http://susanelizabethphillips.com/all-about-me/

 photo n89748_zps52c9ba37.jpg photo n89739_zpsb7878e64.jpg photo n89743_zps74dd2cd2.jpg photo n89746_zps6a2e2970.jpg photo n189156_zps98a7801f.jpg photo n361898_zpsc6076aa7.jpg photo n246639_zps1f423e45.jpg photo n144218_zps63519d22.jpg photo n89749_zps94de74a4.jpg photo n89742_zps1d002dab.jpg



© 2015 Reviews by Aurian