Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rogue's Wager by Christi Caldwell

London, 1821

Lord Robert Dennington, the Marquess of Westfield, has long reveled in the freedom afforded him as the ducal heir. He knows he must someday do right by the Somerset line, but he’s in no hurry to give up his carefree existence.

Helena Banbury is a bookkeeper in a gentleman’s gambling club, adept at analyzing numbers and accounts but helpless for lack of influence. She’s never belonged among the nobility on the gaming hell floors, but neither does she feel completely herself among the men who run the Hell and Sin Club, despite the fact that they are family. The once-illiterate girl from the streets wants more than the gilded walls her protective cage can offer.

When Robert mistakenly enters her chambers one night, Helena is forced out of her predictable life and thrust into the glittering world of Society. Will the charms of the marquess prove more perilous than any danger she ever knew on the streets?

This regency romance features great characters and some believable dramatic twists. Helena and Robert are both strong characters who make an enjoyable couple, and the secondary characters are also well-drawn (for the most part). The reason I didn't give more stars is the fact that I walked away with more questions than answers regarding Helena's early life. I don't understand how she fell in with her street brothers (and her real brother) given that he was apparently separated from his family at birth, I don't understand why her father never actually searched for his family, and I don't know how Ryker and Helena know who their father is given all that separates them from him. I assume some of these questions might be answered in the next book in the series, but feel they needed to be addressed in this one to make the narrative more believable. Still, all in all a decent read.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Hunter Bride by Cynthia Woolf

Jo Shafter is not your simpering miss. She’s a bounty hunter and a darn good one. For the last five years she’s tracked down the men who killed her parents and little brother. Finally, she captured ringleader and sent him to prison. Now Jo can begin the new life she wants more than anything, that of a wife with a husband and children. Manlier than most of the men of her acquaintance, she becomes a mail-order bride.

Sam Longworth is the sheriff of Hope’s Crossing. He wants a wife to cook and clean and give him children, a demure miss who won’t give him any trouble. One who will be happy with the simple life he leads.

A nemesis from Jo’s past shows up with murder on his mind and Jo is drawn back into her old life in order to protect not only herself but Sam.

Both Sam and Jo have secrets from their past. Can they build a happy marriage when neither trusts the other with the full truth or will the secrets drive them apart?

I wanted to enjoy this book, especially given that it dealt with a strong woman trying to make her way in a more conventional world. The problem was that neither Jo nor Sam were particularly realistic characters. The way Jo behaves makes it impossible to believe she could have survived as an independent bounty hunter- she made stupid decisions for no comprehensible reasons other than to create a "conflict" for them to resolve. She and Sam had no true chemistry and he was just kind of a jerk at times. There were also a lot of distracting grammar and spelling errors that made for a frustrating read. I certainly won't be looking to read the rest of the series.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Texas Rose Forever by Katie Graykowski

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that goes double at the Texas Rose Ranch, home to the Rose family through five generations of toil, sweat, and scandal. From the moment CanDee McCain is hired to write a history of the Roses’ empire, she’s bowled over by tall, sexy Cinco Rose. True, the man initially mistakes her for a stripper, but he certainly puts the man in manly. For the first time since her cheating ex left, stealing her novel-in-progress in the process, CanDee is ready to have a little fun.

No woman has ever made Cinco feel both so at ease and so turned on. Since his divorce, he’s preferred a saddle and solitude to risking his heart again. Yet something draws him to the fast-talking, leggy redhead. CanDee’s not just sweet; she’s smart and brave too. But her research is uncovering long-buried secrets that could jeopardize everything the Roses prize most—and destroy a love that’s just begun to bloom.

This start to a new series serves up a fun and funny couple with a delightful family (and accompanying family ranch) as the backdrop. I thought the whole "I thought you were a stripper" thing was a bit over the top, but CanDee dealt well with it (and honestly I can't get over thinking a name like that would often lead to similar confusion...) The romance between these two is lovely, but rather lacks in the dramatic tension I usually expect in a romance novel. There are scenarios that are obviously supposed to provide that "will they/won't they" tension but it never seems real. I also didn't love how CanDee dealt with her thieving ex- I was looking for a completely different resolution there! Nevertheless, an enjoyable afternoon read that provides a little wish fulfillment escape from ordinary life.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

Known as England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions. So when Ruth Galloway’s druid friend Cathbad sees a woman in a white dress and a dark blue cloak standing alone in the local cemetery one night, he takes her as a vision of the Virgin Mary. But then a woman wrapped in blue cloth is found dead the next day, and Ruth’s old friend Hilary, an Anglican priest, receives a series of hateful, threatening letters. Could these crimes be connected? When one of Hilary’s fellow female priests is murdered just before Little Walsingham’s annual Good Friday Passion Play, Ruth, Cathbad, and DCI Harry Nelson must team up to find the killer before he strikes again.

Though I usually enjoy the Ruth Galloway series, this offering was not up to the usual standard. The mystery itself wasn't as engaging and seemed to be wrapped up very quickly at the end. The focus of the book seemed more on the personal relationships but even there I found myself struggling to enjoy. I begin to tire of Ruth and her love for a man who cheated on his wife with her and now seems content to waffle between the two of them based on his mood. Frankly, I can't understand why either of these women is still so focused on gaining his love and approval. All in all a rather disappointing offering from a normally enjoyable series.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .

After the overwhelming tragedy of the last book, I was delighted to see Maisie Dobbs back and closer to her normal form. The historical look at 1938 Munich was chilling; as always, Winspear paints an accurate and insightful picture of the past. The mystery here was less important than the fact the it gave Maisie the chance to find her way back to herself. I was glad to see some characters from the past return to Maisie's life, and can't wait to read her next adventure.