Archive | February, 2010

Dangerous Highlander by Donna Grant

16 Feb

 

Generally, historical and paranormal romance don’t mix.

They are two separate genre’s that don’t get along with each other very well. When I’ve read historical paranormal romance before, one of the two elements falls flat. Either the historical setting takes a background to the paranormal story. Or the paranormal part of the story is overshadowed by the setting.

Either way, it is normally a genre that doesn’t work very well.

So imagine my surprise when I picked up Dangerous Highlander by Donna Grant and ended up blown away. I have read several of Grants other novels, but Dangerous Highlander leaves them all choking in the dust.

Dangerous Highlander is set in the Scottish Highlands and concerns three brothers: Lucan, Quinn and Fallon. They are three immortals who carry a curse inside of them.

Inside of their bodies rests the being of a God bent on destruction. When they let the God inside of them lose, they become that God and have that God’s powers. Unable to come to terms with what they are, they hide inside of their castle and become beings of legend.

Their lives change when Cara MacClure nearly dies. Lucan takes her into the castle, knowing that he risks exposing what they are. Though he knows that he shouldn’t, Lucan feels a passion for Cara that pulls at him, that heats his skin. He wants her but knows that she will not want him when she finds out what she is.

But all is not what it seems. Though Cara knows it not, there is magic inside of her. Magic that someone would kill her for. Can Lucan protect her and his heart? Or will they give into the passion that consumes them both?

I haven’t enjoyed a historical paranormal romance so much in years. Filled with glorious detail, fantastic locales, believable characters and passion that scorches the page and burns the fingers, Dangerous Highlander is one heck of a fantastic book.

Not only does Grant give us characters we can know and love, she surrounds them in a story that pulls you in from the first page and refuses to let go, even after the last page is turned.

Thankfully Dangerous Highlander is the start of the new Dark Sword Series. I, for one, can’t wait for more.

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The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

16 Feb

 

Having read and loved Kostova’s first novel, The Historian, I was anxious to see how she would follow up her mega best selling debut. Would she suffer from second novel syndrome or give us another book of breath taking beauty?

Thankfully, The Swan Thieves is a much better book than The Historian. Part love story, part history lesson, part art story, The Swan Thieves is a novel of love and obsession. Dr, Marlow is given a patient by the name of Robert Oliver.

A brilliant painter, he is arrested when he tries to destroy a painting. When Dr. Marlow asks him why he did it, Robert replies “I did it for her” before he stops speaking all together.

Dr. Marlow is left with a mystery that needs solving. Why did Robert Oliver try to destroy a painting? Who is the woman he keeps painting over and over? To find these answers, he talks to Oliver’s ex wife, mistress and other people in Roberts life. But nothing is as it seems and Dr. Marlow is only beginning to peel away the layers of the onion…

It’s a solid if meandering novel. It’s not a page turner by any means, but this isn’t a bad thing. The way Kostova writes, you know that she has chosen every word very, very carefully. The novel reads like water flowing over rocks; there are a few bumpy parts, but the novel moves along beautifully at a slow and sensuous pace.

Much more assured and beautiful than The Historian, The Swan Thieves is really a gift from a Very Talented Writer.

Angelic by Kelley Armstrong

16 Feb

 

I love Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld novels, but I’m not a huge fan of special limited edition novels or books. They are usually books that you pay a good deal of money for and can’t really carry around with you for fear of damaging the book.

Thankfully, I didn’t have that problem with Angelic by Kelley Armstrong. It’s short, just under one hundred pages, so it was an hours worth of glorious reading. I enjoyed it so much that I read it two times in a row.

In Angelic, Armstrong returns to having Eve Levine narrate her story. Tired of letting the Fates push her around, she sets about trying to get herself fired from her otherworldly job but in the end gets herself in a heap of trouble. Though she has good intentions, she proves that, if anything, she is far from angelic…

What I love about Armstrong’s writing is its strength of voice. Each of her narrators sound different and no character is the same. Even better, the stories are engaging and speed by at a fast pace.

 Angelic is no different. Though it’s a short read, it feels like a whole novel. You’ve got all the emotional highs and lows of a full length read packed into a handful of pages. Angelic is a wonderful read from start to finish and it left me wanting more of Eve.

I’ve missed her as a narrator of the series and it was like I was visiting with an old friend. While I wish there had been more to the story, I will take what I can get.

And read it as many times as possible.

Thaw by Fiona Robyn

16 Feb

 

“I feel strange after writing today. Like I have a blackbird in my stomach.”

What would you do if you decided to die?

You may try to leave your mark on the world in some way. You may give away all your earthly belongings. Or you may keep a journal to leave as your suicide note.

Ruth is turning thirty three years old. She doesn’t know if she wants to live anymore or whether or not she wants to turn thirty three. So she decides to keep a journal, a diary, documenting each day as she gets closer to the date she has chosen to end her life.

She has given herself three months. Three months to write every day so that she will leave behind a detailed suicide note, showing that the taking of her life was no easy decision.  In this way she hopes to provide some measure of comfort to her family that will remain behind and to leave behind her story.

As Ruth begins to write, we are pulled into a story that begins to unfold like a rose, revealing a petal at a time. And much like a rose that unthaws after a cold night and unfurls itself, grows and changes, so does Ruth.

Knowing that the end of her life is coming soon, she begins to throw caution to the wind and do things she never would have done normally. This includes sitting to have her portrait painted, trying to maintain relationships instead of shutting people out and reliving memories that she would prefer stay buried.

As Ruth gets closer and closer to the date she has chosen to die, she begins to thaw and change and become someone different than she was. But the question remains: does she want to live? And how many ways are there to die?

Thaw is the third novel from accomplished author Fiona Robyn and is one of the best books I have ever read. That doesn’t do the book justice; there are no words or adjectives to accurately praise this book. It is beautiful beyond words.

Part of the novels power lies in the strength of Robyn’s writing. Ruth’s voice is so pure, so real, that you feel as if you know her after only a few pages. She could be your sister, your close friend, your aunt. Ruth is a real, living, breathing woman who’s hurts are ones we recognize and empathize with right away.

Most authors spend years trying to achieve the balance and poise that Robyn has achieved and she does it with beauty, grace and a deft hand. Ruth is so real that she seems to live beyond the printed page. Her voice is so real, so tangible, that she stays with you long after the last page of Thaw has been turned.

What Robyn has really given us is an intimate study of human nature; of what drives a person to make the choices they do, regardless of the consequences. Robyn has given us hope and despair, joy and sadness, true emotions bottled up and stored within the pages of her novel.

I went through a whole gambit of emotion while reading Thaw. I laughed, cried, smiled, felt fear, joy, sadness. It takes a very talented author to evoke emotion in a reader, emotion that is true and pure. Thankfully, Robyn has that talent and more.

I have been thinking of Ruth since finishing Thaw and while there is sadness there, there is joy too. Joy that Robyn has given us the gift of Ruth, one of the most incredibly real literary characters to come along in years.