Welcome to July’s What We Are Reading column. Today, we have Maggie Mundy, JJ Somerville and Rhyll Vallis.
~The Birth of Venus~Sarah Dunant
I would like to mention one of the best books I have ever read . It is by Sarah Dunant and is called The Birth of Venus. It is based in 14th century Florence in the time of the Medici's. It is the story of a young woman who has to cope with her position in society at a time when woman were chattel of their father and then their husband. Add to this the Bonfire of the Vanities and a mad monk who wants to take over the city and you have an amazing story. Dunant has the ability to capture you from page one and appears to have done the impossible and has sold this book in the literary as well as the commercial market. Her descriptions of the art will make youwant to visit Florence and try to capture some of the world she created. There are no paranormal aspects to this book but if you wanted to write a paranormal historical based in this time it would be an excellent research tool.
Alexia Tarbotti takes on Queen Victoria's London armed with her not inconsiderable intelligence and a particularly pointy parasol. Scottish werewolves and some exceptionally well dressed vampires conspire to make Alexia's life altogether too interesting. This steam-powered romp has some exceptional laugh out-loud moments, carried along by a fascinating mystery & a simply fine romance. I didn't want to put it down, but when I did I immeditaly picked up the sequel, after stopping for a proper spot of tea of course!
~Big Bad Beast~Shelly Laurenston
If you like your paranormal heroines to be lean, mean ass-kickin’ machines, then Shelly Laurenston’s Big Bad Beast is for you!
The sixth book in Laurenston’s shifter series focuses on ex-marine shifter Dee-Ann Smith, a hard-case with a talent for killin’ inherited from her ‘Da’—Eggbert Ray Smith of the Tennesse Smith Pack of wolf shifters. They don’t come any tougher than Dee-Ann, who impresses her dad with her wise choice of chest-penetrating weapons at age 10!
Ulrich (Ric) Van Holz is only six when he witnesses this tender father-daughter moment, but is immediately love struck, much to the horror of his snobby Van Holz pack uncle. There’s just a touch of feudin’ between the two families—in the best tradition of southern culture on the skids.
Jump forward some twenty odd years, and Dee-Ann saunters out of the marines and back into Ric’s wealthy stratosphere. Ric is quick to hire Dee-Ann as a member of his shifter security team investigating crimes against hybrid shifters, but finds it takes more than pretty boy looks and Michelin star cooking skills to snag the type of attention he wants from Dee-Ann.
Luckily, Ric’s as cunning and persistent as Dee-Ann is ‘ornery, and not even the threat of the over-protective and heavily armed Daddy Eggbert deters Ric from pursuing his lady love...
Laurenston’s writing is fast-paced and packed with earthy humour, break-neck action and scorching sex scenes. Her characters are uniquely (but endearingly) twisted, and reappear throughout her series to create a memorable supporting cast for the romantic leads.
~Demons of Dunmore~Gia Dawn
Sometimes, after spending a long day replicating genomes, mediating Middle East peace talks, or improving NASA’s space program, a girl (or a guy) just needs to chillax with a little escapist and slightly hot and naughty paranormal romance.
Fellow escapees will be pleased to know that Gia Dawn’s Demons of Dunmore series fits the ticket perfectly. Part of the Samhain Publishing stable, the Demons of Dunmore series is erotic paranormal fiction, but while the series title alludes to demons, the interfering fairy guardians of the trio of lordly brothers are the strongest paranormal element in the books.
Without analysing my preference for gender-bending roles too closely, my favourite in the series is book four, Dunmore Rising, in which the heroine is inveigled by the Dunmore fairies into acting as the hero’s squire.
Naturally, this involves polishing Sir Graham’s weapons, helping him in and out of his armour and, ah, holding his sword.
The heroine, Jili, is no slouch with a sword herself, and is squiring herself out in her quest to become Westmyre’s first female knight. But the need to thwart a royal assassin quickly overshadows both Jili and Sir Graham’s tournament ambitions.
This book is a fun romp all the way from the very first chapter in which Jili picks up her sword (it’s always a high point in a novel for me when a woman picks up her sword) and gets a little medieval on the hero’s ass. Those who like a destrier here, and a joust there, will enjoy the tournament setting.