Review: The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Format: hardcover
Pub Date: July 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Length: 323 pages
POV: 1st past, with occasional 3rd in the form of Manuscript H

I started reading the Amelia Peabody series in college. There is just something about them that is so compelling. The series runs from the late 19th century through World War I and ends with the discovery of King Tut's tomb. This series is my comfort read series. The first is a solid Novel with Romantic Elements book.  Back in 2013, I even led a read along on Twitter, but stopped midway following the death of Elizabeth Peters that year.

When Peters passed away, it was well known that she was working on a new manuscript, although her fans were never quite sure how far she had progressed on it. I assumed we'd never see that book, but I was happy to hear that her estate was working to get it finished and into the world.

If you have not read the series, this is absolutely NOT the book to start with. Although each story is a standalone mystery, this series was NEVER about the mysteries. Those have always been secondary to the relationships, and there are multiple arcs that should be read in order. If you're just starting the series there are two ways to read it: as it was published or chronological. After Peters finished the Tomb of the Golden Bird, she went back and started publishing "in between" books that covered archaeological seasons she had skipped. The Painted Queen is one of those "in between" books, taking place between Falcon at the Portal and He Shall Thunder in the Sky.


Review: Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Format: mass market
Pub Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Avon
Length: 371 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Received an ARC from the pub/author at RT17

Ok, it wasn't that long ago that I had a post up about wanting less sexual content in romance.  That I had become a sex scene skimmer, because there's way too much *boring* sex in romance these days. So much so that the plot gets lost. Of course, I maintained that there were a few exceptions to that rule, and Alisha Rai's books have always been that for me.

Hate to Want You is Rai's first Avon book, though, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. Well...the sexual content isn't light. If you thought her signing with Avon meant less sex, dispense with that notion right now. The good news is that, like the other Rai books I've read, the sex scenes move the plot forward. There is absolutely NO Tab A into Slot B laziness in her writing.

At first, this book is solely about sex. Our hero and heroine meet once a year for no-strings-attached sex, despite a huge, ongoing family feud that broke them up as teens. When Livvy shows up in town, Nicholas decides that their once a year arrangement just isn't enough. It's through their sexual relationship, already well established, that their love rekindles. So few authors can make me buy into that anymore, but this book did it well.

There's also plenty of plot outside the bedroom, as a good ole family feud is brewing about a grocery store dynasty. You get lots of side drama from both families. Lots of emotion. There's a lingering sweetness here, too, as this is a second chance at love story.

I'm always terrified when Avon buys someone who has a strong voice I love, but this book was fabulous. It's definitely a keeper, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

My Grade: A


One night. No one will know.
That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies.
Until the night she didn’t show up.
Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?
Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.
Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.


TBR Challenge Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

Format: mass market, but newer editions appear to be trade
Pub Date: orig. 1994, mmpb 1996
Publisher: Bantam
Length: 405 pages
POV: 1st/past
FTC: purchased myself

Not only am I a day late with my TBR review, I'm stretching the theme just a bit. This month's theme is "a series you're behind in." Well...this is book 1, and I haven't read any of the others...So I'm claiming it qualifies as a series I am (way, way) behind in.

I found this book in a sad, neglected box in the depths of the garage a few weeks ago. A box that has sat, unpacked, since our move in 2004. I used to read quite a bit more mystery back in those days, and I'm quite sure I picked this one up from a library used book sale somewhere. It's...weathered.

It is also, in case the pipe on this weird cover doesn't give it away, a Sherlock Holmes book.


Review: Pucked by Helena Hunting

Format: ebook, trade
Pub Date: 2015
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 382 pages
FTC: Borrowed from a friend

If you've followed me on Twitter or read this blog at all, you'll know that I hate, LOATHE, despise first person, present tense. It's all over NA and YA and has been creeping into contemporary romance and I. Hate. It. But after nonstop urging from a friend who knows my sense of humor, I gave this hockey book a try. And for some strange reason, the 1st person present tense did not make me want to gouge my eyeballs out. It's a first.

I think what makes this tense combo work is the sheer outrageousness of Hunting's book. It is CRUDE. Like, in your face, no holds-barred, I-can't-believe-she-wrote-that crude. And funny. So, so funny.  The book starts with Violet masturbating. There are beaver jokes. And beaver clip art. I started this on the plane ride back from RT, with my ereader angled away from fellow passengers, because ... it's pretty explicit.

Review: Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly

Format: ebook
Pub Date: January 2017
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 260 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

I was a HUGE fan of the first two books of this series, which Leslie Kelly published under the name Leslie Parrish several years back. (Cold Sight was 2010) Unfortunately, they didn't sell well enough for her publisher to continue to support the series. Thankfully, Kelly decided to bring the series back on her own.  This is book 3, but I believe they can all stand alone.

What I love about these books is that the paranormal aspects aren't too far outside of what we already consider normal. It's light on the woo woo. These are pretty much standard romantic suspense, and 3/3 the mysteries are good and compelling.


Review: Mogul by Joanne Shupe

Format: mass market
Pub Date: February 2017
Publisher: Kensington
Length: 306 plus a novella of Tycoon
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Received a copy for free at RT17

After lamenting that we have lost the wide variety of time periods and settings in romance, I did a happy dance when I picked this book up at the RT Convention this year. It's set in the US during the Gilded Age (last 30 years or so of the 1800s). I like my Regencies just fine, but I was happy to see something different.

I have never read Joanna Shupe before, but I enjoyed this one. It's not perfect, but I was glad to see a diverse NYC represented. And not just in the background. Much of the plot involves Chinatown (yes, I can hear the groans) but it's not a caricature.  We get the expected criminal element, but we also get a complex story about the Exclusion Acts, about a man trying to help his (Chinese) friend bring his wife to the US. It's thoughtful, and the characters here are not cardboard cutouts slapped on to satisfy some passing attempt at diversity. It feels organic and real.