January has started off slowly but in the last week I’ve finished off two books that I began in 2012. Huzzah!
Curse the Dark by Laura Anne Gilman
This is the second series of The Retrievers novels and I was able to get into this book a little more than the first one. I don’t know whether it was me or the story that has improved. It certainly was fun following Wren Valerie and her business partner (& now love interest) Sergei travel to Italy to work a job for the Silence. There is good humour, adventure, interesting world building – non humans, the big bad Council, and those who like Wren wield Current (i.e. New magic).
Blameless by Gail Carriger.
I actually was lucky enough to get this book signed by Ms Carriger at WorldCon in 2010 when it was in Australia. This is the third book in The Parasol Protectorate – aka the Alexia Tarabotti series. Again, this book is full of good manners, funny side quips, vampires, werewolves, and tea – lots of tea. There’s also a trip to the Templars who according to Alexia wear nightgowns with crosses and think she is the devil spawn, and also the discovery of pesto. After being shunned by her husband, Connall for falling pregnant (werewolves can’t have children), Alexia finds herself back in her maternal home. Too bad, her family have absolutely no feeling for her situation. Pretty soon, Alexia is chased by vampires meaning to kill her. She can’t have that and travels with her trusty butler Floote, and inventor friend, Madam Lefaoux in search of answers about her ‘inconvenience’ -ie the baby.
With both books, I plan on continuing to read more books in the series.
I've been reading some fantastic speculative romances books.
Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz is the start of a new paranormal series from one of my favourite romance authors. A damsel in distress who can rescue herself, thank you very much, and a mad scientist hero who is strong, brooding and adorable. Loved it.
For the Love of a Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk
Okay, let's get the Perth parochial pride out of the way. The setting for the book is vivid and real and I loved that it was Perth, my hometown. Now for the really good stuff. This third book in Shona's Shadowlands series is my personal favourite. Real world issues, those faced by soldiers returning from combat, are given extra edge and intensity by the addition of a fantasy element. I enjoyed the journey back to life and love. It was emotional and real.
Asher's Dilemma by Coleen Kwan saw the end of another great series by an Aussie author. This time steampunk, which I love. It has a lovely, lucid and convoluted time travel plot. The steampunk details are fantastic -- and charming. Who can resist a "chronometrical conveyance"?
Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard
Burnard packed a whole lot into ENEMY WITHIN. There's so much to like about it - the absolutely amazing world-building, the fascinating characters, the cracking pace (helped by the fact that EVERY chapter ended on a hook and made you "read just one more"), the twisting plot filled with tension and intrigue.
I absolutely loved the detail of Burnard's world building. The geography/planetary creation, the technology, the medical/scientific information, the political/military/cultural structures, the racial histories - all of it just sucked me in. I love how effortlessly this was woven into the story. It made the story and characters come alive and I felt like I was right there beside them as their adventures unfolded.
I connected immediately with Ari (the heroine) and, not long after, Cullin (the hero). Their individual backgrounds, the circumstances, their loyalties, their fears, their romance - totally believable. Both were fully fleshed and ultimately believable. I was disappointed to finish their story as I wanted to keep on reading more about them. The secondary characters (and there were quite a few) were well developed as well, and I loved how integral each and every one of them were to the story.
The plot sucked me right in and I never found myself able to predict the twists or any events with any certainty. I became immersed in the intrigue. And as I mentioned before, the tension and pace kept me riveted and turning those pages as I just HAD to see what happened next.
The action, adventure and romance were woven so well together. I highly recommend ENEMY WITHIN if you like Linnea Sinclair, Ann Aguirre, Sara Creasy or Jess Granger (whose works are all on my keeper shelf).