Monday, September 10, 2007

Sophie Jordan - Too Wicked to Tame


To avoid the oppression of marriage a lady only has to act like a shrew....

As a little girl, Portia Derring was abandoned by her mother who wanted to travel and see exotic places. She promised Portia to stay in touch and to come back for her, except she never did. Now her family is on the verge of bankruptcy and they want her to marry well, but Portia is not ready to give up her dream, she is convinced that her mother will come back for her. So she acts like a sharp tongued shrew every time a suitor comes near her, in a last attempt to see her married her grandmother sends her to the country to meet the wealthy Earl of Moreton. The moment she meets him she is appalled by his boorish behaviour, but why is she so drawn to him.....

To avoid the shackles of marriage a man only has to display boorish behaviour....

The very wealthy Earl of Moreton, Heath, has no desire of ever getting married. No woman has ever been able to touch his heart. Bad blood runs through his veins, his father and mother suffered from madness and he is therefore determined to stay single. So far he has chased away all potential brides to be with his ill-bred behaviour, but his cunning grandmother does everything in her power to see him to the altar. She has invited the granddaughter of an old friend, Lady Portia Derring, to stay with them for the Season. They argue from the start and he thinks she is a real shrew, but at the same time his desire for this feisty beauty consumes him and he can’t stop thinking about her, but marriage is not an option....

This is the first book I have read from Sophie Jordan and it is only her second novel. This novel takes you back to the Regency period and tells the story of Heath and Portia, two lovely characters. Portia is a young woman who desperately holds on to her dream, but gradually throughout the book you see her change, she becomes more mature and finally she realises that what she wants from life and hopes for is not the same thing as the dream she has clung to for so long. Heath is a tormented handsome devil, who lives his life by the day, he feels like he has nothing to offer due to his bad blood until he meets Portia, but his fear, pride and stubbornness gets in the way.

I like the way Miss Jordan writes passionate, witty and funny dialogues. The interactions between Heath and Portia spatter from the pages.

Heath to Portia and vice versa:

“God you are a shrew,” he chuckled against her ear, the sound oddly pleasant. “Because I do not take insults kindly?” “No, because nothing but vinegar flows from your lips.”

Portia to Heath and vice versa:

“Pesky gentlemanly honour,” she mocked. “Picks the most inopportune times to surface.” Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Portia.” “No, my lord, you don’t suit me,” she countered. “Ah, but we know that to be untrue.”

“What you know couldn’t fill the inside of my boot.” “God’s teeth, you’ve a viper’s tongue. No wonder you can’t find a gentleman to wed in Town.”

As for the plot I found it a bit too common and predictable. There are no surprises and the story is solely about Heath and Portia, there is not really a secondary story line and the only other characters that play a part are Mina, Heath’s sister and his grandmother. It is a pity that Jordan did not allow them a greater part in this story, they would have made this story a lot more interesting. Mina is the rebellious sister who is not allowed to go to any social event and is therefore very afraid to end up an old spinster, his grandmother is so cunning and sharp that you just have to like her!

In general I think this story could have been so much more, it was a nice read but it did not give me goosebumps. Nevertheless I think Sophie Jordan has a great talent for writing fantastic dialogues, if she can combine that with a great and intriguing plot she will most definitely be a writer to keep your eye on.

3 stars

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Jean Johnson - The Wolf - Sons of Destiny 2


The Second Son shall know this fate:
He who hunts is not alone
When claw would strike and cut to bone
A chain of Silk shall bind his hand
So Wolf is caught in marriage-band

Eight mage-brothers who were born in four sets of twins, all on the same day two years apart each time, are known as the Sons of Destiny. They fulfil the Curse of the Eight Prophecies, written by the seer Draganna over a thousand years ago. They were exciled by the Council of Mages of Katan to Nightfall Isle to prevent the fulfilment of the eight prophecies. But now their downfall has begun, the first prophecy is fulfilled and the second one is well on it’s way, there is no escaping...

For years Alys has been treated badly by her uncle Broger, now she has finally managed to escape him and his evil magic. She runs for shelter to her childhood friend Wolfer, the boy she fell in love with a long time ago. Only the boy is now a man, a very hot good-looking man, naturally she is most welcome to stay with him and his brothers, but she is terrified how he and his brothers will react when they discover her horrible secret...

Wolfer can’t believe that the young woman in front of him seeking shelter is his sweet little innocent Alys, except that she ain’t so little anymore and not so innocent. All the deep feelings he had for her return in a split second and with that the strong need to protect her from her evil mage uncle, Broger. Wolfer accepts his destiny freely, he is certain that Alys is destined to be his wife, but courting her is not so easy when pure evil is banging at the front door and disaster is bound to happen...

This is the second instalment in the Sons of Destiny series. Once again Jean Johnson takes you back to this wonderful and magical place that is called Nightfall Isle. In this volume the characters of the brothers are explored in depth even further and that is why you will enjoy and appreciate them more. For example, we get a little taste of how powerful Morganen really is in comparison to his brothers, very intriguing indeed. They all have their own flaws and strong features which makes them deliciously divine. As for Alys, she is a wonderful brave young lady, she is just perfect for Wolfer. The only thing that annoyed me a bit was Kelly’s character, I found her a bit too dominant for the story.

It is interesting to read how the lives of the eight brothers are all connected with one another, how the choices and actions of one brother effects the live and well-being of another brother. The fulfilment of the first prophecy is like an avalanche, one prophecy leads to another and so on. Yet again Jean Johnson has come up with an amazing plot, her imagination has no limits. As for her dialogues, they are witty, sensual and fun to read.

Wolfer to himself:

“When had she grow up? When did she become a woman? Why the hell didn’t I notice all those years ago?”

Alys to Wolfer:

“That is why men have muscles for, isn’t it? To make them big, and hard, and to use them to make a woman happy by ... by moving the bed, when asked nicely?”

This book is definitely no punishment to read, it is a real pageturner. It is a great fast- paced story with a sexy hero and a charming heroine and it only makes me crave for more. I can’t wait to read the next instalment in these series, so that I can return to the magical, sensual and funny world that Jean Johnson has created and get lost in it. These series should come with a warning: Beware, highly addictive reading material!

3,5 stars

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Michelle Styles - Taken by the Viking


This story takes you back to a time that Vikings ruled the seas, traded their goods or simply raided the lands of others. A time where people were in fear for their lives by the mere thought of a Viking ship. You get to meet Haakon Haroldson, a dark, arrogant, Viking warrior, who trades his goods for coin or gold so he can take care of his people and estate back home and Annis of Birdoswald, a young, fierce widow who came to the monastery of her uncle for counsel to avoid another forced marriage.

As Haakon came to the monastery to collect the coin that was legally his, he never anticipated that his visit would end in a raiding and massacre or that a beautiful intriguing young woman would save his life. To protect Annis against his own men and to keep her safe he takes her captive and sweeps her back to his homeland. But maybe she is not so safe there as he thought. Maybe he is not so safe in his own home as he thought, since greed, jealousy and betrayal are just around the corner.

The first thing that occurred to me as I read this story was that this is truly a classic Viking tale. It is obvious that Michelle Styles paid great attention to the historic facts of this period in time and this only benefits the story. These facts also provide a great insight of the day-to-day life of the Viking community.

With Haakon Haroldson Michelle Styles has created a characteristic Viking, arrogant, prevailing and honourable. Annis, the heroine, is an engaging, strong-willed, noble lady who desperately wants to be in charge of her own life again. I could feel the chemistry between them from the moment they met, it vibrates from the pages and their interactions sizzle.

Haakon to Annis and vice versa:

“I regret I will not be able to take up the invitation your lips issued just then when we kissed.” “My lips never did.” “Ah, but we both know the truth, don’t we, Annis?”

Besides the hero and the heroine this story has many engaging secondary characters. For instance there is Guthrun, Haakon’s stepmother, she is quite a hag and there is Thrand, Haakon’s half-brother. He is one of those secondary characters in a book who you would like to see in a story of his own. The stunning sub-plot concerning betrayal, greed and jealousy gives this story more depth and intrigued me till the last page.

From page one this story captivated me and urged me to keep flipping the pages into the wee hours of the morning. Michelle Styles certainly knows how to throw her readers back in time, she made me crave for more, more of those arrogant Viking warriors! Taken by the Viking is an enthralling, sensual, fast-paced read, a must-read for everyone who likes a classic historical tale!!

4 stars