Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lady Beware (A Novel of the Company of Rogues)

Lady Beware by Jo Beverley (2007)

Pages: 413

ISBN: 978-0451221490

Description: For generations, the Cave family has been marked by scandal, madness, and violence. But after earning a reputation for bravery and loyalty in the army, Horatio Cave, the new Viscount Darien, has come home to charm London society and restore the family name. He means to start with lovely Lady Thea Debenham.

The magnetism between Thea and Lord Darien is immediate-and enraptured Thea knows this is no innocent flirtation. But can she trust the dark, sexy "Vile Viscount"? Even if she can convince herself, she may not be able to convince her family, particularily her brother, Dare-the most dashing member of the Company of Rogues-that Horatio does not deserve the cursed Cave reputation...

Review: The start of this book is intertwined with the previous book, To Rescue A Rogue. We begin at the engagement ball for Dare and Lady Mara. We follow Dare's sister Thea as she is attempting to change gowns due to an unfortunate incident with a glass of wine. Thea meets a most interesting man in the hall... a man who blackmails her to announce an engagement or he will refuse to aid her brother. Being the good sister that she is (and also enjoying the kisses of this stranger) she reluctantly agrees. After getting to know Lord Darien, she begins to see that there is more to him and begins to truly have feelings for him. However, there are many things that get in their way. She has a rather loose cousin and there is all the bad history of the Cave family that gets in their way. With a shaky start, this is one love that strives to survive.

I began this story with high hopes that perhaps I should not have had. A good chunk of this book takes place during the previous book, To Rescue A Rogue. We see some of the same things happen, but from a different perspective. I really didn't care much for the character of Thea. I found her to be a spoiled little miss for a chunk of the book. While Darien was somewhat a cad, he really did have good intentions and I have to say that I liked him. I think there is just too much extra drama packed into these (Rogue series) books that is unnecessary. It just feels to me like Beverley is trying to add pages to her book.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

To Rescue A Rogue (A Novel of the Company of Rogues)

To Rescue A Rogue by Jo Beverley (2006)

Pages: 411

ISBN: 9780451220110

Description: Lady Mara St. Bride has never backed down from a good adventure, which was how she wound up roaming the streets of London in the middle of the night, wearing nothing but a shift and corset beneath an old blanket. Luckily, her brother's oldest friend, the devilishly sexy Lord Darius Debenham, answered her plea for help. Now she intends to repay the favor...

Before Dare was wounded at Waterloo, he had embraced everything life had to offer. Forever changed by the war, he believes nothing-not even the interference of a lovely young minx like Mara-can rescue him from his demons. But Mara is determined to reignite his warm smile, and enlists the help of all the Rogues to offer Dare a temptation he cannot resist...

Review: The story begins with Lady Mara wandering the streets of London trying to reach her sister's London home without getting caught. Did I mention that she is also only in her corset and wrapped in a blanket? Somehow, she manages to find her brother's best friend's home, but alas, he is not home. After a few moments of Terror, Dare arrives home and saves her. Lady Mara has known Dare for some time, but now she is grown and not the adventurous child she used to be. Even though he is recovering from wounds suffered in Waterloo (and opium addiction), Dare cannot resist helping Lady Mara. In return she tries to help Dare. By planning little outings, she learns more about the man Dare has become and falls in love with him. Dare can't help himself and has also fallen for Lady Mara, but he doesn't feel worthy of her due to his addiction. However, he can't let her fall into some other man's hands so he proposes to her with a condition... he has to be free of the Opium. Other outside forces collide with this couple and they fight for their love to survive.

This is one of the last books in Beverley's Rogue series. The great thing about them is that you can read them apart and still figure out what is going on. I really liked the characters of Lady Mara and Dare and cheered them on throughout the book. The book did start to lag in the middle and there did seem to be a lot of extra drama thrown in that really didn't need to be there. It almost felt like Beverley was trying to make the book at least 400 pages so she had to throw in some extra drama to fill it up. Overall, it was a good story and I did enjoy reading it.

Score: 3 out of 5

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Book of Scandal

The Book of Scandal by Julia London (2008)

Pages: 360

ISBN: 9781416547112

Description: Nathan Grey, the Earl of Linsdey, is infamously known as the Libertine of Lindsey for his scandalous ways with women. But when he hears gossip that his estranged wife, Evelyn, is about to be named in The Book of Scandal, he has no choice but to remove her from London to protect her and himself from charges of treason-even if it calls for abduction! While Evelyn has no legal recourse against the man who broke her hearts years ago but is till considered her lord and master, she is no longer the immature girl Nathan married. Her enforced homecoming quickly turns into a battle of wills that tears down her husband's defenses and lays bare the passion that still burns between them. Before it is too late, Nathan must confront powerful adversaries as he convinces Evelyn that she is not only his wife, but the one woman he will love for all time.

Review: The story begins with Evelyn and Nathan living very separate lives... Nathan living in their country estate and Evelyn in London in high society. Evelyn is currently a companion to one of the royal princesses and contemplating having an affair of her own. When Nathan gets word that Evelyn is up to her eyeballs in one of the most outrageous scandals for some time, he decided enough is enough and comes back to take her to their country home. Naturally, she tries to avoid by going all the way to the king himself. However, nothing stops Nathan and she is returned to their home. They have been separated for three years and are virtually strangers, but with much difficult history between them. Nathan wants his wife back and Evelyn continues to struggle for some time to come to terms with their past and move on. When strange things start happening, Nathan begins to worry about Evelyn's safety. After a few attempts on her life and their meddling parents, the two are thrown together and attempt to start their lives over.

This was a difficult book for me to finish. I really liked the character of Nathan, but I could have thrown Evelyn across the room... several times. For the majority of the book she tries hard to reject her husband and not even try to work things out with him. Not until the end does she grow up and begin to discover that he really is a great guy and she should cut him some slack. Yes, they have had tragedy in their lives, but I think she was overreacting greatly. If I were Nathan, I think I would have dumped her long before he gave up on her. The overall story was okay, but it is a book that you can live without reading.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Silent in the Sanctuary (A Lady Julia Grey Mystery, Book 2)

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn (2008)

Pages: 552

ISBN: 9780778324928

Description: Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father's estate crowded with family and friends-but dark deeds are afoot at the deconsecrated abbey, and a murderer roams the ancient cloister.

Much to her surprise, the one man sh ha hoped to forget-the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane-is among her father's house guests... and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count.

But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghostly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel, and a member of Lady Julia's own family confesses to the crime. Certain of her cousin's innocence, Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again. When sudden snowstorm blankets the abbey like a shroud, it falls to Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane to answer the shriek of murder most foul.

Review: The story begins now long after the end of the previous book, Silent in the Grave. Lady Julia has been recovering from her ordeal in Italy with two of her brothers. There she has a love interest, a young Italian count. After receiving a summons from their father for Christmas, the siblings pack it up, along with Alessandro (the Italian count) and head home to England. At first, it was a nice gathering of family and friends. Brisbane was even there but he was not alone... he brought his fiance. Lady Julia was set back by this, but soon realizes there is more to meets the eye. With this motley crew all assembled, there is of course a crime to solve and a snowstorm that will ensure no one will escape. This situation causes Lady Julia and Brisbane to work together once more, and the sparks fly.

Admittedly, the book did have a slow start. However, once events went into motion I could not put the book down. Raybourn crafts such a great assortment of characters with a great mystery. I especially love trying to reason out who the culprits could be along with Lady Julia. Lady Julia's character has grown more sure of herself in this book and is really becoming a force to be reckoned with. I also enjoy the sparks that fly between Lady Julia and Brisbane. I am desperate for the next installment of this series, Silent on the Moor. A must read for both historical fiction and mystery fans.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Silent in the Grave (A Lady Julia Grey Mystery, Book 1)

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (2007)

Pages: 509

ISBN: 0778324109

Description: These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection. Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret wen she discovers the damming paper for herself, and realizes that truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues than lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

Review: The novel opens with a house party at the Grey's London home. Sir Edward Grey begins to convulse on the floor and shortly after, dies. Lady Julia is faced with the death of her husband and the questions of Nicholas Brisbane. Brisbane believes there has been foul play, but Julia is convinced that it was just a natural death. After a year passes, Lady Julia begins to discover more about her husband and comes to believe that there may be more to her husband's death. She enlists the assistance of Brisbane and enters a deadly game of cat and mouse.

From the very first paragraph I was intrigued with this story. The writing was fantastic and it was obvious that Raybourn did much research. You felt with every page that you were in Victorian London following Lady Julia trying to discover the truth. This novel will appeal to both historical fiction and mystery fans alike. A must read.

Score: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert (2007)

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1905264127

Description: Jack-of-all-trades Borchert shares wholesome, guardedly witty dispatches from the suburban L.A. library system in this charming tell-all. For 12 years the family-man author has held the post of assistant librarian, keeping a wary eye on unruly kids, mollifying mystified parents and repairing sadly manhandled materials. Borchert relays a conversation with an aged librarian who reveals how it was in the good old days (staff lunches used to be served with wine), then contrasts that account with modern-day multicultural crayons and the preponderance of latchkey kids abandoned in the library for long, numbing afternoons. A few of the regular patrons are inspiring Renaissance types, but most are unsettling and unsavory, such as intensely reclusive crossword-puzzler Henry hounding the reference desk; loser Max looking futilely on the Internet for a South American wife; or the drug dealers working the restroom. From patrons who rack up hundreds of dollars in fines to missing pet rats and fist-fighting mothers, Borchert has seen it all, and his account gives a human interest spin to this undervalued profession.

Review: This biography goes over much of Borchert's interesting library career. He tells stories of his experience in the inner-city library. For the most part, I was bored with his narrative. I work at a public library and much of what he describes happens all over the country. I guess you could say it is just part of the whole job experience. I'm not saying that it should be fine to have a drug deal go down in your bathroom at work, but that is sadly happening everywhere. I like to regale my stories from when I used to work at Borders and now at the library. My friends have a hard time believing it can be happening. That said, I think this book was dry and to be honest it was difficult to finish. I mistakenly thought it was to be humorous, but I barely even cracked a smile. I will give him that it was a great way to get the public aware of what it is we as library workers have to face on a daily basis.

Score: 2 out of 5

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jack of Clubs (House of Cards, Book 2)

Jack of Clubs by Barbara Metzger (2006)

Pages: 337

ISBN: 0451218051

Description: Years ago, Captain Jack Endicott's young half sister vanished after a carriage accident. Now, hardened by fighting in the Peninsular wars, Jack sets out to honor his father's dying wish that he find the missing girl. Disdainful of "proper" gentlemanly pursuits and refusing to live off his noble brother, Jack makes a bold play. He'll open a lavish gaming parlor in London - and, by hiring only beautiful ladies to deal cards, possibly find his sister. All he needs is a little luck.

Schoolteacher Allison Silver is at her wit's end. After an arduous journey escorting a precocious pupil to her grandparents in London, the old folks are not even home to take delivery! And the only possible alternate guardian in a known womanizer who runs a gambling house, of all things.

Yet when the proud Jack meets the prim Allie, the odds are surprisingly even - all bets are off in a wild game of romance...

Review: Jack and Allie did not get off to a great start. They both thought the worse of the other, keeping to stereotypes. They both had their fair share of pride, which seemed to get in their way quite often. Then there was the orphan that tied them together. Not long after their association, it became obvious that there was an attraction. They both tried to stay away from each other, but in the end they just had to be together. As the second book in this trilogy, it picked up where the last left off. We now get a closer look at Jack. The plot of this particular tale is somewhat ludicrous. In an attempt to locate his sister, Jack opens of a gaming club to possibly have an encounter with her. Once Allie and Harriet arrive he seems to forget about this search and gets involved in their issues and his growing lust for her. It seems the Endicott boys only seem to look for their sister when they need to hide or fulfill some other thing lacking in their lives. For the most part it was an average story, but one that you could skip.

Score: 2.5 out of 5