Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn

Romantic Fantasy

Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn is the fifth book in the Twelve Houses series and is my favorite. Sharon Shinn writes in a way that makes the reader care about her characters. It is like meeting old friends when characters reappear in each book. Fortune and Fate is about Wen a side character from the first four books. The main characters for pervious books re-appear and play a significant part in the story. Like the other books this is a love story. I love the series and hope that there will be additional books about the Twelve Houses. Reading this series is like a taking a long leisurely stroll with good friends while you catch up with what they have been doing for the last year or so. I am surprised it took me so long to discover books by Sharon Shinn.

Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn ( was published by ACE (,,9780441013036,00.html?Mystic_and_Rider_Sharon_Shinn) in 2008.

The books in the Twelve Houses series are:

Mystic and Rider – see my recommendation on March 23, 2009 (
The Thirteenth House
Dark Moon Defender
Reader and Raelynx
Fortune and Fate

Friday, April 24, 2009

Close Encounters (An Alien Affairs Novel) by Katherine Allred

Science Fiction Romance

Close Encounters is Katherine Allred’s first science fiction romance. She had been writing contemporary romances for 10 years when she decided to combine her love of science fiction with her love of romance.

Close Encounters
gets the Alien Affairs series off to a great start. Close Encounters has good world building, a suspenseful plot and good characterization. The story is told in the first person by Kiera a Genetically Engineered Person and an agent for Alien Affairs. Kiera has been sent to Orpheus Two. Her job is to protect the Buri from the powerful Dynatec Corporation. Filled with action, suspense and romance the story grabbed me from the first page.

In addition, Katherine did a good job in creating supporting species. I especially loved Crigo, Kiera’s rock cat. Kiera’s description of their relationship is a classic for any of us who love cats. She says “I promise not to compromise his dignity by petting him, he promises not to rip my arm off at the elbow. In return for the food he consumes ….he keeps me humble by following me around, making derogatory feline comments about everything I do and turning his back when I talk to him. “

I am always looking for new science fiction romance authors. I liked Close Encounters and am looking forward to her next book in the Alien Affairs series.

Eros ( published Close Encounters by Katherine Allred ( in 2009.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Devil’s Eye by Jack McDevitt

Science Fiction Mystery

The Devil’s Eye by Jack McDevitt is the 4th novel in the Alex Benedict series. The Devil’s Eye was published by ACE in 2008. Although there are some references to events in previous novels the story can stand on it’s own.

Alex Benedict is an interstellar antiquities dealer and his assistant and pilot is Chase Kolpath. They are returning from a well-deserved vacation when Alex checks the messages left while he was away. Alex finds a strange holographic message from Vicki Green, a well-know horror writer. The message says “Mr. Benedict, I know this will strike you as odd, but I don’t know who else can help me. Since you’re not here, I’m asking your AI to forward this message. I’m in over my head, Mr. Benedict.” She was staring at him. Her turn to be terrified. “God help me they’re all dead.” In addition to the message Vicki has wired a large sum of money to his bank account.

When he tries to contact Vickie he finds she has volunteered for a mind wipe and new personality and has no memory of why she sent the message or the money.

This is a mystery Alex cannot pass up. He feels that Vicki trusted him to do something and he wants to find out what. When Alex checks he finds that Vickie spent the last year on Salud Afar a remote human planet at the edge of the galaxy. Alex and Chase travel to Salud Afar and at first find nothing out of the ordinary. They do however think that they are being watched. Even though nothing they find makes sense to them some of the locals think that they have discovered the same secret Vickie found. Life for Alex and Chase becomes very interesting as they dodge the people who want to stop their investigation.

The Devil's Eye is a good addition to the Alex Benedict series. If you have never read any of the books this is a good starter. Like the other books in the series The Devil’s Eye is well written and has a good story that keeps you guessing for most of the book.

The other books in the Alex Benedict series are:

A Talent for War

Friday, April 17, 2009

Give me a Cowboy by Jodi Thomas

Western Romance

I will buy any book by Jodi Thomas so when I saw Give Me a Cowboy I immediately picked it up. Give Me a Cowboy contains four novellas by four authors. All the stories take place during the 1890 Kasota Springs Rodeo in Kasota Springs, TX.

Silent Partners by Jodi Thomas is the first story in the book and is my favorite. Rowdy Darnell returns to Kasota Spring and meets Laurel Hayes for the first time in years. They both need money and they become silent partners in an effort to win the big prize at the rodeo. Read the story to find out how the partnership works out.

The other three authors in the book are Dewanna Pace, Linda Broday and Phyllis Miranda.

Give Me a Cowboy by Jodi Thomas (/ was published by Kensington Publishing Corp.( in 2009. Although I have not see it there is a companion volume Give Me a Texas by the same four authors.

On the Road

I'm heading out in my RV today. I will be visiting Hot Springs, AR, the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR and Buffalo National River to float. If you want to travel with me visit my travel blog

I have a few scheduled post for this blog and if I find a book I like I will try to post on the road.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Venus and To Kill A Spy both by Jane Feather

Historical Romances

I have been on a romance reading kick and I recently checked Venus and To Kiss a Spy by Jane Feather out at the library. Both are older books that are still in print. Venus was published in 1988 and was re-released by Bantam ( in 2003. To Kiss a Spy was published by Bantam in 2002. While very different stories both have elements in common.

Jane Feather set both Venus and To Kiss a Spy in England during turbulent times. Both are filled with real and imaginary characters. To Kiss a Spy is set in the court of Mary Stuart just before her brother Edward dies. Venus is set in the court of Charles II after Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans were overthrown. In both books actual events are woven into the story to provide added tension. Both books are well researched and provide a reveling glimpse into the life and politics of the times.

In To Kiss a Spy widowed Lady Pen Bryanston serves in the court of Princess Mary Tutor. French master spy Owen D’Arcy is given the task of seducing Lady Pen and using her to spy on Princess Mary. Lady Pen is not willing to be seduced but will trade other favors with D’Arcy. Lady Pen is convinced that the child she bore two years ago after her husband died was not still born as her mother-in-law claimed. No one believes her. When she realizes that D’Arcy has the means to find out if her son is still alive she makes a deal to spy in return for his help in finding the truth. As they work together their attraction grows but there are politics and secrets that must be faced. Attractions, secrets, politics, and actual historical events are skillfully woven into the story.

Venus has a very different heroine. Polly Wyat is a 17 year old who lives and works in The Dog a lower class tavern in London. Lord Nicholas Kincaid belongs to a group concerned with the council being given to Charles II. He and another of the group have arranged a secret meeting at The Dog. When Nicholas sees Polly he is awe struck by her looks. When she invites him upstairs he follows. What Nicholas does not realize it that Polly’s uncle uses her to drug and rob wealthy customers of The Dog. Nicholas does not pass out and when Polly helps him escape and guides him to safety he takes her to his home. Polly wants to be an actress and Nicholas sees a way for them to be of use to each other. He cleans her up, teaches her additional skills she will need and acts as her sponsor to get her into the theater. His goal to is bring Polly to the attention of the Duke of Buckingham, pass her on as the Duke’s mistress and use her as a spy. Of course nothing works exactly as planned.

Both Venus and To Kiss a Spy are enjoyable reads. Pick either or both up if you want a good romance.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Historical Fiction

Although Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is set in 19th century China during the time women’s feet were still bound I found it to be a story of women everywhere. Within this story of two friends are elements that are universal. In the story we see how women will follow tradition even when it can cause harm or even death, how one best friend can betray another, and how a women form their own society.

In the story are seldom seen glimpses of the kind of life women lived in China when foot binding was common. Much of the story revolves around two friends who use nu shu a secret women’s language that was hidden from men for over 1000 years. It follows them from childhood, through marriage, motherhood, and old age. I think any of us can see a little and learn a little about of ourselves from the women portrayed in the book.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan would be a good choice for discussion in a book club.

Random House published Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See ( in 2005.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair

Science Fiction Romance

Hope’s Follyby Linnea Sinclair ( is the third book in the Dock Five Universe. The first two are Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark. I think it adds to the story if you have read the first two, but Hope’s Folly stands on it’s own.

Philip Guthrie was a supporting character in both Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark. Linnea in one of her post’s said that Philip visited her office one day and said that he wanted his own story. Hope’s Folly is the result.

Admiral Philip Guthrie is a changed character in Hope’s Folly. Taking on a leading role in the rebellion against Imperial forces he is aware of his past mistakes and hoping to make amends for some of his decisions. His first job is to get aboard and move Hope’s Folly to the rebel shipyards for re-fitting. At Kirro Station Philip and some of his new crew are attacked trying to board the shuttle taking them to Hope’s Folly. Rya Bennton a former ImSec officer (polite, professional and prepared to kill) is among those joining his crew and helps Philip defend everyone as they board the shuttle. Nothing goes smoothly; there is a traitor in the crew, the ship has problems and two different groups are trying to keep them from arriving at the shipyard for repairs. In addition, there is an immediate attraction between Philip’s and Rya. Rya has had a crush on Philip since she was a child but does not think he could be interested in her. Philip fights the attraction because Rya is the daughter of an old friend and 15 years his junior. Their attraction adds tension to the story. Just a comment on my part. This is a very different Philip. He frequently calls himself a “galactic sized ass” for some of the things that take place between he and Rya. He would not even have thought that in the first two books.

In Hope’s Folly Linnea Sinclair has written another excellent story blending romance and science fiction. Like all of Linnea’s books the story has a fast pace, a great plot, well-written characters, humor, and gripping action. Hope's Folly joins other Linnea Sinclair books on my favorite's shelf.

Bantam ( Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair in 2009.

If you would like another view of Hope’s Folly go visit Frances Writes ( see her review.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Phenomenal Girl 5 by A. J. Menden

Action Romance

I read the first chapter of Phenomenal Girl 5 on line at A.J. Menden's web site ( and was hooked on the premise immediately. The book lived up to the sample.

A.J. Mendan has created a world where superheroes are common. Phenomenal Girl 5’s (real name Lainey Livingston) has just realized her dream of becoming a part of the top group of superheroes, the Elite Hands of Justice. Her training requires her to work for two years with the Reincarnist, a man who every time he dies reappears almost immediately as a 20 year old with scattered memories of his past lives. On their first patrol together a new super villain who plans to unleash chaos appears. Lainey and the Reincarnist have to find a way to stop the impending doom. At first they are the only ones who are worried about the threat but gradually the other members of the Elite Hands are drawn into the fight. There is action, romance that does not run smoothly, and a great cast of characters. A world full of Superheroes who have widely varying powers add additional interest to this action romance read.

Shomi ( published Phenomenal Girl 5 by A.J. Menden in 2008. Check out the free sample at her web site and see if you are hooked on the story.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Broken Wing by Judith James

Historical Romance

There are two reasons I’ve had trouble writing the recommendation for Broken Wing by Judith James. First, I wanted to make sure I did justice to the story. Second, every time I picked up Broken Wing to write a recommendation I ended up re-reading the book. So far I have probably read the story 4 or 5 times. Broken Wing is more than a romance; it is a beautiful touching love story. After reading my recommendation I hope you will want to read Broken Wing.

Sarah, Lady Munroe and her half-brother Ross, Lord Huntington, have come from England to rescue their 10 year old brother Jamie. Jamie went missing five years ago and they have finally traced him to a brothel in Paris.

Sarah is known as the Gypsy Countess “on account of her unfortunate parentage and her even more unfortunate behavior. She left her elderly husband only a week after her nuptials. It was widely rumored since that she dressed as a man, consorted with pirates, and counted among her numerous lover her own half brother, Ross. All but the last charge were true.” On the other hand Ross is very conventional.

Gabriel was sold to the brothel as a young boy. He has built up an icy defense to protect himself from all the pain and hurt. His only escapes from the realities of his life are books and his goal of protecting Jamie from all the things that he himself has had to endure. Now Jamie’s family has come to take him home and Gabriel see only a empty future.

When they arrive at the brothel they find Jamie untouched. Jamie states that he will not leave without his protector, Gabriel. When Sarah and Ross tell Gabriel Jamie wants him to come with them he is stunned and we see his reaction. “He steeled himself immediately, crushing a sudden stab of hope.” When Sarah pushes the offer she sees “past kohl, artifice, and carefully constructed defenses, to a heartbreaking vulnerability” and offers him 10,000 pounds to come with them for a year. Gabriel accepts knowing this is his last chance to leave a world that has left him empty.

The story unfolds gradually. Gabriel has no experience with the world he is now in. At first he is only comfortable with Jamie and avoids contact with the rest of the family. He hides behind the walls he has built to protect himself from the people who only used him. Sarah senses his deep unhappiness, wants to help him adjust but does not know how.

The first break through comes when Ross calls Gabriel into his study. Gabriel thinks the worse and is surprised when Ross tells him “It is my intention that you continue your education as a gentleman”. Ross goes on to list Gabriel’s strengths: ““You have exquisite manners when you choose to use them; you have a classical education at least the equal of most of the young fops passing for gentlemen these days; You are largely self-taught…This is much to your credit; You are an accomplished musical; you dance; and you ride.” Ross also states that the Captain of the ship they took to England mentioned Gabriel’s affinity for the sea. Ross and Sarah’s cousin Davey will soon be anchoring in the harbor below the house for the winter. Ross wants Gabriel train with Davey to see if he would like a career at sea.

For Gabriel the meeting is surreal. “As far as he was aware, he’d never been noticed for anything, other than his body and his face. He’d never been praised for anything, other than that, or his skill with his hands, his mouth or his prick. Hearing Huntington listing his accomplishments and planning his future when he’d come expecting anger and retribution left him feeling buffeted and bewildered. He could make no sense of the new world, no matter how hard he tried. He had no map, no compass, no idea of what to expect next.”

Late that same night Sarah is in the kitchen gathering up food to eat while she watches a meteor shower. When Gabriel comes in she invites him up to her balcony to watch. While Sarah just wants someone to share the beauty of the night, Gabriel thinks that she wants to use him for sex. When they get to the balcony Gabriel realizes his mistake. Gabriel for the first time enjoys sharing an innocent experience with another person and finds that innocence “it was a new and heady flavor, and he liked it tremendously”.

Despite their backgrounds and experiences innocence is what makes Gabriel’s and Sarah’s story so compelling. As they fall in love Sarah and Gabriel share their most painful secrets. The story is not rushed. They start holding hands while talking, after several months they kiss, they fall in love over the course of a year and just when everything seems to be resolved something happens to separate them.

This is Judith James’ first published novel and it does have some flaws. None of those flaws detract from the beauty of Sarah and Gabriel’s love story. I am looking forward to Judith James’ next book. Broken Wing is a must read love story.

Published by Medallion Press, Inc ( in 2008 Broken Wing was written by Judith James (