Sunday, March 26, 2017

Book review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt


Title: Duke of Pleasure
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Piatkus
Release date: November 2016
Series: Maiden Lane
Source: Bought

Description: IN THE ARMS OF DANGER
Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king's secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley - and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE
Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she's the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation . . .

ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER
When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be - before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?

My thoughts: I always find historical romances a fun escape for a few hours. I hadn't read anything by Elizabeth Hoyt before, and while this is part of the Maiden Lane series, it works well as a standalone book - I think each story follows a different pair, so while there is probably some overlap in characters, I didn't feel like I was missing out.

Hugh quickly realises that the Ghost of St Giles, Alf in disguise, is female, although he is fooled into thinking Alf is a boy for much longer. When he puts the two together, he keeps the information to himself, protecting her identity and safety. But knowing that the Ghost, whom he has been fantasising about, is actually working with him puts him in an interesting position!

The romance in this book is quite sexy, I think partly because unlike in a lot of historical romance novels, the heroine is not part of respectable society. So there is no expectation or assumption that sexual activity will lead to marriage. They are both able to be more free with their affections than in many cases, and it leads to some very steamy scenes!

While the romance is of course a big part of the story, the intrigue of trying to uncover a secret society who are known to do awful things is also a big focus. I really enjoyed the mystery, and following the various characters as they put clues together.

Overall I really enjoyed this book - it was a lot of fun! I don't know if I'll go back & read earlier books in the series, but I do want to read the sequel as it focuses on a character who we see a lot of in Duke of Pleasure. A fun historical romance with a dangerous plot to uncover, I'm giving Duke of Pleasure 7/10.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Book Review: Ashwin by Kit Rocha


Title: Ashwin
Author: Kit Rocha
Release date: 7 March 2017
Series: Gideon's Riders #1
Source: Review copy

Description: Lieutenant Ashwin Malhotra is a Makhai soldier—genetically engineered to be cold, ruthless. Unfeeling. His commanding officers consider him the perfect operative, and they’re right. Now, he has a simple mission: to infiltrate Gideon’s Riders, the infamous sect of holy warriors that protects the people of Sector One.

He’s never failed to execute an objective, but there’s one thing he didn’t anticipate—running into Dr. Kora Bellamy, the only woman to ever break through his icy exterior.

When Kora fled her life as a military doctor for the Makhai Project, all she wanted was peace—a quiet life where she could heal the sick and injured. The royal Rios family welcomed her like a sister, but she could never forget Ashwin. His sudden reappearance is a second chance—if she can manage to touch his heart.

When the simmering tension between them finally ignites, Kora doesn’t realize she’s playing with fire. Because she’s not just falling in love with a man who may not be able to love her back. Ashwin has too many secrets—and one of them could destroy her.

My thoughts: Ashwin launches the latest series from Kit Rocha, which will follow the fates & fortunes of the motorbike-riding bodyguards & enforcers who patrol the area known as Sector One - Gideon's Riders. There are eight 'sectors', arranged around the edge of a city called Eden, and Gideon is the leader of Sector One.

The book launches straight into the action. Ashwin and Kora cross paths in chapter two and you can feel the tension (and heat) between them straight away. Most of the conflict for the relationship comes from Ashwin's side of things: he knows some things about Kora and her past which she doesn't; will he/won't he tell her them? And he has some additional mission on top of inflitrating the riders: will people find out about that, will Ashwin stick to it as he becomes closer & closer to her, what consequences will it have for the relationship?

The story is told from several points of view, mostly Ashwin & Kora and I enjoyed hearing from both of them. Kora is an incredible doctor but is building a life for herself which doesn't just revolve around that. She's made choices to bring her to where she is, and she's a very determined person. Ashwin is very observant but doesn't really have people skills worked out well. He's not my favourite POV character but he was still very interesting to read about.

Looking at the bigger picture, this book lays a lot of groundwork on what life in Sector One is like, and some of the problems which might come up in later books. Kit Rocha has talked about there being a lot of 'court politics' type scheming in these books, with the hierarchy between the noble families being a very important aspect of Sector One. I'm really looking forward to that, but felt like we only dipped a toe into the pool of it in Ashwin.

Ashwin is a really good book to set up a new series and I can't wait to see where it goes. You meet a lot of interesting characters and I want to know more about almost all of them. The romance in this one was enjoyable to read, and I couldn't put the book down once I'd started. I'm giving it 7 out of 10.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Book Review: The Chilbury Ladies Choir, by Jennifer Ryan


Title: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
Author: Jennifer Ryan
Release date: 23 Feb 2017
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review copy

Description: Kent, 1940. In the idyllic village of Chilbury change is afoot. Hearts are breaking as sons and husbands leave to fight, and when the Vicar decides to close the choir until the men return, all seems lost.

But coming together in song is just what the women of Chilbury need in these dark hours, and they are ready to sing. With a little fighting spirit and the arrival of a new musical resident, the charismatic Miss Primrose Trent, the choir is reborn.

Some see the choir as a chance to forget their troubles, others the chance to shine. Though for one villager, the choir is the perfect cover to destroy Chilbury’s new-found harmony.

Uplifting and profoundly moving, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR explores how a village can endure the onslaught of war, how monumental history affects small lives and how survival is as much about friendship as it is about courage.

My thoughts: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir follows the lives of several different women of varying ages and from various backgrounds over the course of a few months during the Second World War. A young woman mourns a man who has left for the war, and wondering if she should let their childhood friendship turn into an engagement. His mother worries for him and wonders if she's going to lost a son now having lost her husband in the previous war. Someone looks to profit from the concerns of the village. Some learn to stand up for themselves.

All round, it's a story about the life of a small village and its trials. I liked seeing the clashes between the choir of women and the group of home front men who wanted to practice in the church at the same time as them. Some of the twists in the personal stories I think were quite predictable, such as the pregnancy of an unmarried woman (I won't tell you who) but other aspects kept me guessing.

I got this one a while back for review and read most of it on the beach and to me the book fit that sort of holiday mood. It's nice, sweet, and has some poignant moments. Jennifer Ryan has written a good book to read in a relaxing setting, a hug and a nice cup of tea in book form. I liked it, I'll recommend it, but I don't feel the need to reread it, so I'm giving The Chilbury Ladies' Choir 6 out of 10.
 

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