Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMasterKiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Series: London Steampunk #1
Published by Tantor Audio on May 13, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so…innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.

In my earlier days as a book blogger I remember Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster being one of the first steampunk stories I’d ever read, the other being Kate Locke’s series – Immortal Empire. I seriously fell in love with the world that McMaster created and the paranormal elements she molded to fit in with everything. When I saw the opportunity to listen to the audio version on McMaster’s entire London Steampunk series with Alison Larkin narrating, I knew that I had to experience this series in this format – the sample I listened to hooked me as well.

As always whenever you are revisiting a series in another format you are going to experience some inconsistencies simply because when you read it for yourself you imagine how certain characters sound, look, and the way they carry themselves. In listening to Kiss of Steel with Larkin’s narration behind it I did find myself not really liking her portrayal of Blade’s voice. Now the interpretation could be completely wrong on my part because I have no idea how his English accent was supposed to sound, but I envisioned him with a deeper voice. I digress, Larkin did an amazing job with everything and everyone except for Blade’s character.

The story of Kiss of Steel was also something that drew me in immediately. Yeah there are vampires within Kiss of Steel, which have been included in paranormal stories for decades upon decades, but the way that McMaster penned the challenges, hierarchy, and world elements within Kiss of Steel sets it apart from other paranormal/steampunk stories you will ever read.

Since I never did get pass Kiss of Steel when I was going through this series the first time I’m super excited to see how the world McMaster created expands and changes as the series goes on, plus I want to see how the series transitions into the spin-off series The Blue Blood Conspiracy.

 

 

Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley

Lacybourne Manor by Kristen AshleyLacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley
Published by Self Published on August 5, 2011
Pages: 543 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-stars

In 1522, the very night they were wed, Royce Morgan and his new bride, Beatrice Godwin, were murdered on their way home to Lacybourne Manor. After the cruel deed was done, a local witch came across their bodies, witnessing firsthand the tragedy of star-crossed lovers. Vowing that Royce and Beatrice would someday uncross those stars, using magic mixed with murder as well as true love, she linked their spirits together with hers (because someone had to protect them) forever… or until their reincarnated souls find happily ever after.

Now arrogant, forbidding Colin Morgan lives at Lacybourne, knowing, from lore (as well as the portraits of Royce and Beatrice that hang in Lacybourne’s hall and the small fact that he looks exactly like Royce Morgan), that he is the reincarnated soul of his ancestor. One stormy night, flighty, free-spirited, scarily kind-hearted Sibyl Godwin comes to Lacybourne and it doesn’t escape Colin’s notice that Sibyl is the spitting image of Beatrice. However murder, magic, a warrior’s heart beating in a modern man’s chest, a woman bent on doing good deeds even if they get her into loads of trouble, a good witch whose family has vowed throughout the centuries to protect true love, distrust and revenge make a volatile cocktail.

This means the path to happily ever after is paved with tranquiliser darts, pensioners on a rampage, Sibyl’s bad morning moods, heartbreaking misunderstandings and all kinds of magic, good… and bad.

The drama that could be read from Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley’s synopsis had me hooked….immediately. With the way that Kristen Ashley pens her stories I knew to expect some serious anger towards one or both of the main characters and their possible pigheadedness, but I would ultimately fall in love with everything Lacybourne Manor had to offer.

Colin and Sybil were equally delightful to read about, I couldn’t have asked for a better hero and heroine for Lacybourne Manor. The way things began and then worked itself out in the end was truly magical and in no way predictable. I was really expecting to loath finishing this story because of a situation that took place within its pages that I felt soured the story for me only to have to bow down to the greatest of Ashley’s pen because she blew my mind once again with how she orchestrated this sticky situation fabulously.

The mystery, and going back and forth between the past and present and sometimes a place in-between was superbly done. I loved the glimpses of the original ancestors of Colin and Sybil, Royce and Beatrice, that we were able to see, both in contrast and in clarity to Royce and Beatrice’s situation and Colin and Sybil’s. The other thing I loved about Lacybourne Manor was the fact that there was a senior citizen facility filled with some amazing elderly characters that added so much life and balance to this story.

Now that I’ve read the first two stories in Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series I feel so much better about going into Penmort Castle, and I feel like I’ve gotten a better sense of the series. Lacybourne Manor simply was amazing.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley

Sommersgate House by Kristen AshleySommersgate House by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #2
Published by Self Published on December 7, 2013
Pages: 461 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly orphaned nieces and nephew.

Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister’s children nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas’s frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique.

Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she’s decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn’t so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).

One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built the house and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.

Why didn’t I first start with Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley in her Ghost and Reincarnation series?!

With the way I responded to Sommersgate House I truly believe that all things happen in their own time and with their own reason because had I not read Penmort Castle first and somewhat loathed it I wouldn’t have given Sommersgate House a chance.

While I was reading Sommersgate House I seriously dwindled away into a pile of goo. This story held everything I love in a contemporary romance story, especially a story of Kristen Ashley’s caliber. There was a broody hero, little babies that needed love, a strong-minded heroine, a mystery that kept me intrigued, a villain that I loved to hate, and a romance that was absolutely timeless. Ugh, I’m getting excited all over again, this book was so good!!!!

When I asked Kristen Ashley which order I should go in when going through her Ghosts and Reincarnation series, since Goodreads had a particular order, she let me know that I should follow her order for this series instead of Goodreads lol. I sort of feel cheated because Goodreads and Amazon stated that Penmort Castle is the first in the series so that’s why I read that first, but in reading Sommersgate House so many things now make sense that I was confused about in Penmort Castle.

Sommersgate House was an amazing start to Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series, it introduced the premise of the series in a way that now if I were to read the synopsis of the other stories in this series I would at least know what the end goal would be for each couple. Ugh, I have a feeling that I’ll have a new favorite series by Ashley, I’m seriously contemplating vetoing the ranking system I have for her series because it’s starting to feel redundant.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Lure of Oblivion by Suzanne Wright

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lure of Oblivion by Suzanne WrightLure of Oblivion by Suzanne Wright
Series: The Mercury Pack #3
Published by Montlake Romance on November 21, 2017
Pages: 333 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Gwen Miller may be a human, but she has no problem taking a stand against her own kind. She’s going to testify against the teenage boy she saw viciously assault a lone shifter female—and no amount of pressure from the boy’s wealthy family will make her back down. But when the harassment turns violent, help comes in the form of a lean, toned wolf with winter-gray eyes.

As a guest at Gwen’s inn, shifter enforcer Zander Devlin can’t help but notice that the fierce and leggy brunette is in serious trouble. Since she’s putting herself at risk for one of his kind, keeping her safe is the least he can do. That’s not the only reason Zander wants her close. He desires her, even as the wolf inside him backs away from her. But his feral instincts are hard to keep down, and as they take shape, they’re harder for Gwen to resist. Then again, embracing them could be the only thing that could save her life.

When I say that I was equally shocked and surprised by how much I liked Lure of Oblivion by Suzanne Wright, I am not kidding you. I really thought that Wright would continue on in her same formula of storytelling as she’s done with past stories in both the Phoenix Pack and Mercury Pack series, but that was not the case – well not entirely – with Lure of Oblivion.

Wright really took her time in giving ample page time to illustrating the background and present circumstances surrounding our main characters, Gwen and Zander, which I definitely appreciated. I’m not going to say that Lure of Oblivion had a complex storyline, nor was it completely action filled, but I will say that with the overall mixture between the romance, drama, and paranormal elements I was thoroughly entertained and engrossed in all that took place within this installment of the Mercury Pack series.

Gwen and Zander’s relationship really reminds me of how much I loved Harley and Derren’s relationship from an earlier story in this series. The strength of each character was something that grabbed my attention and made me pay focus on them as individuals before they became a ‘them.’ I usually have no issue with a story being romance led but it’s such a breath of fresh air when I can learn to love the individual characters instead of only recognizing their identity in their romantic relationship.

The main complaint I had about Wright’s latest release did find it’s way in Lure of Oblivion, but I’m both grateful and exasperated that she still chose to include it, even if it was in the last 5% of the story.  It may be nice to have a story where Wright either explains the significance of anal sex or just chooses to annex it altogether because this element is seriously starting to get old.

About Suzanne Wright

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something, whether it was stories, poems, or even songs – though I can’t carry a tune. I only have one rule when I’m writing a book which is that it has to have a happy ending. Other than that, pretty much anything goes. I write stories that I would enjoy reading and then I just hope that others will enjoy them too.

I was born and raised in England where I live with my husband (a person who doesn’t judge me for hearing voices in my head – how often do you come across people like that?), and my two demanding children.

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh @NaliniSingh @BerkleyRomance

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh @NaliniSingh @BerkleyRomanceSilver Silence by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #1, Psy-Changeling #16
Published by Berkley on June 13, 2017
Pages: 496 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...

Silver Silence was everything! I had no expectations but goodness gracious I wasn’t expecting things to get this intense for the continuation and spinoff of the Psy-Changeling series. Whew!

I don’t know whose character I loved more, Valentin’s or Silver’s because both showed up and showed out and made Silver Silence easily another favorite by Nalini Singh. It’s been a while since I’ve felt torn between two characters, I think the last duo was Sienna and Hawke so for Valentin and Silver to be currently fighting for that number one spot says something. It wasn’t so much that either had such dominant personalities and were both leaders of their sphere of influence, I think the way they both carried themselves while being thrust into some sticky situations and still being able to keep a level head and be the beacon of hope their people needed just spoke volumes.

If you’re read any of my reviews on Shelly Laurenston‘s stories then you know how much I love bear shifters, so when you couple Singh’s writing with my favorite paranormal caricatures explosive is written all over it. I will admit to some skepticism before starting Silver Silence because I have been burned before when I’ve given into the excitement of what I hoped a bear shifter story would be like only to either get the opposite or for it to not even reach the cusp of my expectations. But, like I’ve said in many a review on Singh’s writing, I trust her and she hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Even with how fast paced Silver Silence turned out to be, the emotional connection I had with its story and characters was very much present and active, I found myself holding back tears quite a few times because of the raw emotions these characters went through and the situations they were placed in. Maybe ‘fast paced’ is the wrong terminology, a better phrase would be ‘smooth flowing.’

Silver Silence flowed so smoothly that I seriously felt like I was only reading a 150 page book – except for the beginning portion where I had started and stopped, I just had a lot going on at the time…nope I’m lying I had to finish Lady Luck by Kristen Ashley and I couldn’t focus on anything else until then. But seriously, Silver Silence kept my attention and I never knew what was coming with each page turn and when part two came I didn’t know what to do with myself especially when I saw that the book was already at the 70% mark.

While reading Silver Silence you could definitely feel the fingerprints of Slave to Sensation but not so much that it felt like a rewrite with different characters and settings, but more of it being the start of something new, also without the heavy load of doing a lot of world building.

Before Silver Silence, and other than her cameos during scenes with Kaleb, I didn’t really pay much attention to Silver but I always knew that she would somehow rise to the front because she was too dominant a personality to sit on the sidelines and be Kaleb’s assistant forever. I was really surprised by how much I ended up loving Silver’s character, she might just be my favorite heroine out of the entire Psy-Changeling series.

In conclusion, Silver Silence did its thing and I seriously can’t wait for what the Psy-Changeling Trinity, part two of the Psy-Changeling series, has to offer.

About Nalini Singh

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated frequently).

So far, I’ve worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer’s mill.

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There’s no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.