Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An Unlikely Alliance by Rachel Van Dyken

Spoiled New York rogue Royce Mc Arthur lives a charmed life. He sees no reason to settle down, until his mother issues her decree that he must grow up, find a wife and produce some grandchildren…preferably before she dies of old age. But his choices are quite limited considering the only women of his acquaintance are ones of ill repute. Meeting the beautiful Evelyn DeJarlias at a ball gives him hope he may have found the one. Her southern blue collar outspokenness and lack of refinement draws him like a moth to a flame. Unfortunately, she does not find him nearly as endearing -- consistently refusing his lavish gifts and his attentions, she poses a challenge he simply cannot ignore.

This was a cute regency-ish novella. It actually takes place in New York, I wasn’t quite sure of the exact time frame, some of the conversations or statements seemed too modern at times. Royce is your typical rake, when he meets Evelyn he regrets his past and wants to make a change. Since the story is so short things moved along quickly (almost too quickly at times) it was a bit hard to believe he had truly changed. He admits that he gets bored with women after a month, and I wonder will he get bored with Evelyn after their whirlwind courtship. Evelyn was likable; she at least tries to resist his charms and makes him work for her affection. The two team up to figure out what is going on between their parents (her father and his mother) and I suppose a friendship grows from their time together. Overall, it was an enjoyable short story.

Content: Clean. Talk of mistresses, no detailed love scenes

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology. Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go. But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

I was intrigued when I read that this book was a dystopian retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which happens to be a favorite of mine. I’m a sucker for lost-love stories and was anxiously waiting for the time when our characters, Elliot and Kai, were reunited. Elliot North was a good leading lady. She has good morals, strong convictions, and a kind heart. When Kai returns she has to face some truths about her beliefs and way of life.  Malakai Wentforth was likable, but I felt like I didn’t really get to know him as well as I would have liked. We get to read letters between Elliot and Kai when they were kids, but other than that we only see the present Malakai a few times. I would have liked more page time with Elliot and Kai together. When they are together there are some good tension filled moments, they definitely have chemistry. I’m a sucker for romance and thought there would be more in this book (I don’t think there was even one kiss!), instead it seemed like the focus was more on the dystopian world. In some ways the story stuck to the original Persuasion, but it definitely was unique. Overall, I liked it, but wanted to like it more. Any fans of Persuasion should give it a try, it was a fun retelling.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reckless Magic by Rachel Higginson

GoodReads Synopsis: 16 year old Eden Matthews has been in and out of private schools for the last two years. Kingsley is her last chance to finish high school and she is determined to simply do that. But when she meets Kiran Kendrick and her world opens to something she thought only existed in fairy tales, she's unsure what her future will hold. Suddenly she is captivated by a boy who seems to be the source of all of her problems and struggling to rescue her best friend from a foreign prison. When attempts are made on Kiran's life, Eden alone must save him. Thrust into a world that is more make-believe than reality, Eden has to find her own destiny without losing those she loves most. Reckless is an intricate story of mystery, adventure, magic and love. Eden Matthews is an unlikely heroine set on a path to save the world and her loved ones before its too late.(

My Review: This was a fun start to a fun new series. Overall, I really enjoyed it and thought it was an enjoyable read. I admit, the first 30% started to drag, I just wanted Eden to stop being in the dark and start asking more questions. Once things started to be explained and Eden was brought into the loop the story really picked up.

Eden doesn’t always make the best decisions, but it’s not really her fault. I think a lot of hassle could have been avoided if she had just been told the truth. But, at least they explain why they held things back. I felt kind of bad for Lily, at times she felt more like a plot devise than an actual character. Eden only seemed to worry about her when it was convenient to worry about her, if that makes sense.
I was also a little disappointed in some of Eden’s reactions. You’d think with some of these huge revelations she would be a little more emotional about it all, instead she seems to just take everything is stride. There is one big reveal (that wasn’t that surprising) that I would have expected a little more out of her. Wouldn’t she have wondered why she was raised human while a certain someone appears to have always known who he is? Did he know about Eden? I wish that had been address a little.

As for Eden and her love interest, I thought they had a nice relationship and at times had great chemistry. I would have liked if they had more of a foundation before they start declaring their love for each other though. Sure they are attracted to each, but at times it just felt more like hormones than actual love. In fact, it seemed like their only connection was through their magic, and of course some passionate kisses. I just thought the end, while nice, was a little dramatic. I don’t think it will bother me in the next book, usually by then the relationship is established and the whole insta-love thing doesn’t bother me anymore. I hope that’s the case here anyway.  

My only other minor complaint, I didn’t really care for the character names, mostly Kiran and Avalon. Personally, I think Avalon sounds too feminine. I like my male characters to have really masculine names. Not a big deal though.

Overall, a fun read. I liked the new take on magic and the history. I thought it was original and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Content: Pretty clean. Lots of mild swearwords.

Reading Order:
Book One: Reckless Magic
Book Two: Hopeless Magic
Book Three: Fearless Magic
Book Four: Endless Magic
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