Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nowhere Near Respectable

Nowhere Near Respectable (Lost Lords, #3)Nowhere Near Respectable by Mary Jo Putney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, really.

When Lady Kiri Lawford accidentally overhears her potential mother-in-law insulting her and her mother, she is so furious, she "borrows" the best horse in the stables and sets off alone for her brother's house in London. Not the smartest plan in the world, as it turns out, because while still far from home, she stumbles across a group of smugglers who capture her, chain her up in a cave, and then begin debating the merits of raping & killing her versus holding her for ransom. She is ultimately freed by a combination of an honorable customer of theirs and her own skills, including using her diamond ring to saw through the manacles and her knowledge of hand-to-hand fighting.

Her rescuer turns out to be Damian Mackenzie, friend and former classmate of her brother's, owner of a fashionable gambling establishment and the illegitimate brother of Lord Will Masterson. Even though Mac is not really suitable marriage material, he appeals to Kiri's rebellious side, and she can't quite make herself stay away from him once they are back in London. One night, she and a friend sneak out and go masqueraded to Mac's club under the pretense of repaying him the money he spent rescuing her. They see it as a great adventure, but the adventure turns serious when Kiri notices a young woman being abducted and charges into the fray. The kidnapping turns out to be part of a much larger conspiracy, and soon Kiri is going undercover, using her unique perfumer's talent of identifying scents to locate the culprits.

The reason this novel didn't rate a full four stars (or more) from me is that it requires more than the usual amount of willing suspension of disbelief. I could believe that Kiri's childhood was unusual enough to have afforded her training in a particular type of Indian hand-to-hand combat, and I could even believe that she'd been trained as a perfumer. My own husband has an incredibly strong magnetic pull on me, so I could just barely stretch far enough to believe in the power of her attraction to Mac. But I had a hard time swallowing the concept that her brother the Duke, her stepfather the General, or her mother the Hindu princess would have ever allowed her to move into a boardinghouse for spies and go out unchaperoned, dressed as a doxy, looking for traitors and criminals!

Still, the story was highly engaging, and I enjoyed the historical thread regarding the state of the British royal family during the Regency period. It was a fun read.

For readers' advisors: story, character, and setting doorways. Some sex and swearing.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Kiss and Spell

Kiss and Spell (Enchanted, Inc., #7)Kiss and Spell by Shanna Swendson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love how Shanna Swendson continues to keep this series so entertaining by tweaking what happens with the main characters' magical lives--i.e. in this volume granting Katie magical powers she's never had before. In the previous book, Owen had to cope with magical immunity for the first time ever. It gives Swendson a chance to play "what if" with her characters, to discover how they would react, adapt, and work together.

In book #7, Katie is delighted to spend her days receiving private magic lessons from Owen & Rod. The secrecy isn't terribly fun, but she gets to experience life as a magical being. Soon she realizes that something odd is happening at the office, but before they can get to the bottom of the mystery, she wakes up in an alternate New York City, where she works at a coffee shop in a bookstore that Owen has just purchased. Only the occasional memory flash pokes Katie to wonder if something just might be awry. Some folks just seem so familiar, though....

My favorite thing about this volume in the Enchanted, Inc., series is that Katie and Owen finally get a chance to go on real dates and actually deepen their relationship. They finally have a chance to build a more solid foundation, to learn more about each other, and to confirm that no matter the reality, they really are meant to be a couple. It's the much-needed eye of the storm. But don't worry--the fast-paced action returns quickly.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways, setting is secondary. No sex, and I don't remember any bad language.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Sometimes a Rogue

Sometimes a Rogue (Lost Lords, #5)Sometimes a Rogue by Mary Jo Putney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More like 3.5 stars. I'd say four, if it weren't for the slightly-too-easy escapes from disaster. And the fact that Mariah going into labor in the opening scene was a bit too sudden and dramatic. Not that water breaking and things going awry isn't likely, especially in that day & age, but as someone who is currently waiting for labor to start, I can tell you that water breaking--as the first sign of labor--is almost certainly not followed seconds later by second stage labor (i.e. the pushing phase), no matter what is portrayed on tv or in movies.

Still, I really enjoyed the story of Sarah Clarke-Townsend and Rob Carmichael. She's the identical twin of the pregnant Duchess of Ashton; he's the Bow Street Runner and friend of the Duke of Ashton who races to rescue her from the kidnappers who've abducted her by mistake. Sarah is no fragile flower, though, and Rob's admiration for her intrepid spirit grows by the hour as they struggle to evade capture throughout the Irish countryside. A near-death calamity leads to Sarah claiming, for expediency's sake, to be his fiancee, which turns out to be the best thing for both of them as they turn pretense into reality.

This is a great series for keeping oneself entertained and distracted. I seem to have accidentally skipped book #4, however, so I do need to go back and locate that one now.

For readers' advisors: story and character doorways, primarily, but also historical setting (Regency England). Several sex scenes later in the book, but thankfully not especially explicit. Some mild swearing, particularly on the part of a young girl who's spent an unfortunate two years with her crude and abusive grandfather.

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