Category: Historical Paranormal
Review of The Perfect Poison
The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick
Summary: Plagued by rumors that she poisoned her fiancé, Lucinda Bromley manages to live on the fringes of polite society, tending her beloved plants-and occasionally consulting on a murder investigation. But the death of a lord has shaken Lucinda to her core. To keep her name out of the inquest and to find the murderer, Lucinda hires fellow Arcane Society member Caleb Jones who runs a psychical investigation agency. A descendant of the founder of the Society, Jones is very skillful at protecting its secrets-and frighteningly good getting at the truth. Immediately, Lucinda senses both a raw power and an undeniable intensity in the imposing man.
May's Review: A very enjoyable read that is part mystery and part paranormal, but is set in Victorian England. I am a newbie to the Arcane series whose stories alternate between the Victorian period and contemporary United States, but after reading this latest book, I am curious to read her earlier books. Personally I think it was refreshing to read a paranormal romance book that did not involve vampires, werewolves, lesser known mythical gods or any other supernatural creatures. At the heart of this romance is a half-decent mystery as our hero has to figure out who is trying to frame our heroine for murder while trying to unravel a dark family secret. Well worth a read if you are looking for a guilty pleasure this holiday season and want something a little more substantial from the paranormal-historical romance sub-genre.
P.S.: The newest book in the Arcane series is titled Fired Up and will be available very soon on our library shelves, both in the regular collection and our Popular Picks. For more information about the titles in the series, check out the author's website.
Maybe Not So Charming After All...
Charmed Destinies by Mercedes Lackey, Rachel Lee and Catherine Asaro
Summary: Three classic stories of timeless love and tantalizing fantasy…
Counting Crows: In Lady Gwynnhwyfar's dark, lonely court, her only ally was noble Sir Atremus, a warrior willing to fight for her honor. But would her powerful spell capture his heart—or tumble the kingdom into chaos?
Drusilla's Dream: Every night Drusilla Morgan dreamed of courageous and handsome Miles Kennedy. Their quest: to battle evil and find true love. Yet when the sun rose, would Drusilla's fantasy man become a reality?
Moonglow: In a world where kings married for magic, Iris Larkspur was required to wed the prince—despite the spell that kept him deaf, mute and blind. Healing her bridegroom would take a power greater than any she'd ever known—one only two bonded hearts could provide!
May's Review: If I could sum up this fantasy-romance anthology in one word, I would have to say that it is "uneven." Counting Crows was quite good with a very strong heroine and a good plot twist. Moonglow was the more romantic of the three stories and certainly had its moments. Good but not stellar. As for Drusilla's Dreams, I actually found the characters' foray into the fantasy realm to be very distracting and kept skipping ahead to read about them in the real world. Even then, I still found the story unsatisfying. Hence, I recommend readers read the first and possibly the third story in the anthology and quickly skim the second one.
A twist on the Arthurian legend, romance author Kinley MacGregor writes a series featuring new characters who will battle for the fate of Camelot itself.
Sword of Darkness (Book 1 of Lords of Avalon Series) by Kinley MacGregor.
Summary: The new king of Camelot wears no shining armor: Arthur and his knights have fallen and a new king rules. In the darkest forest, a scared, forsaken youth has become the most powerful—and feared—man in the world. Ruthless and unrestrained, Kerrigan has long ceased to be human. In the heart of London, a spirited peasant mired in drudgery, Seren dreams of becoming her own woman, but never expects that by fleeing her fate, she will meet her destiny. Their worlds are forever changed. Kerrigan's goal is simple: barter or kill Seren to claim Arthur's Round Table. Yet she is the one person who holds no fear of him. More than that, her nobility sparks something foreign inside him. In his nether realm, kindness is weakness and a king who harbors any sort of compassion loses his throne.
Knight of Darkness (Book 2 of Lords of Avalon Series) by Kinley MacGregor.
Summary: For countless centuries, Varian has been the assassin for the infamous Merlin, even though the woman who birthed him sits at the right hand of his enemy, Morgen le Fey. Now both his mother and Morgen have decided that it's time he take my place on their side of this conflict. His mother gives me a simple choice: join Morgen's Circle of the Damned or see an innocent woman die. Varian is all for saving the innocent, but Merewyn isn't as innocent as she seems. And she's none too fond of the fact that her fate is in my dubious hands. Now the only way to save both their lives is to face the evilest forces ever known—my mother and Morgen. And two people who know nothing of trust must learn to rely on each other or die: provided that they don't kill each other first!
May's Review: Normally I don't read paranormal romances but I was intrigued by this series when I found out that a graphic novel based on Sword of Darkness had come out this past summer. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed these books that combined very likable characters, right amount of action and adventure with good touches of humour thrown into the mix. I liked the first book slightly better than the second one, which seem to have more of a fan fiction quality about it. Seriously, if you are looking for a good romance to take your mind off this holiday season, you cannot go wrong with these two "guilty pleasures".
P.S. Read my review of Lords of Avalon: Sword of Darkness on the Graphic Novels Blog.
Canadian author scores big with touching debut
The Gargoyle: a novel (2008)
The Mad Hatter says:
At its core, The Gargoyle is a love story. The narrator begins his life as a stunning Adonis and star of pornographic pictures. He is an addict, alcoholic, and seducer of women. In other words, a morally bankrupt jackass and an all-around cad. Just when his life cannot possibly become more hedonistic, our narrator is horribly burned and disfigured in a car accident. For him, life is over, and while the doctors work to keep him alive, he can only contemplate his suicide. Then he meets Marianne Engel...who is perhaps schizophrenic, maybe manic-depressive, but clearly unhinged in some way. She insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany and spins him many tales to convince him of their past life together. Marianne's storytelling efforts slowly draw our narrator back to life and towards a love he has never known. He and Marianne share a tumultuous, fiery, passion that is a true meeting of minds and souls, rather than mere physical bodies.
There is no doubt that Andrew Davidson is an extremely talented writer. His description of what it feels like to be engulfed by flames and burned all over your body is one of the best pieces of writing I've read in a long time. His characters are sympathetic, eccentric, and immensely likable. Marianne Engel is unforgettable. The historical vignettes that pepper this book all the way through are also immensely enjoyable (and obviously well-researched showing a keen eye for detail). However, I did feel the book began losing its momentum by the end. Rather than savoring every last word I was skimming paragraphs and pages. How it ends should not come as a surprise, and even though Davidson played fair (it couldn't have ended any other way), I found the outcome unsatisfying. In spite of this I still highly recommend it, and it gets my vote as one of the most beautiful covers in recent memory. (This review originally posted to RPL's FictionFiles blog).
Now a RPL Popular Pick Look for it at your local library!
In Boundless Deep by Kate Brallier, Liza is a graduate student who spends her summer in Nantucket. While there the past and present begin to combine, making this a story about ghosts, murder and love. "Brallier's imaginative contemporary paranormal romance plays well on several levels, with visionary dreams enhancing the carefully researched historical aspects she brings so vibrantly to life and lots of subplots fleshing out the personalities of her various characters" - Booklist, February 15, 2008.