Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Jayne S

http://dearauthor.com/author/jayne/

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

Posts by Jayne S:

REVIEW:  Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

REVIEW: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

Night-of-a-Thousand-Stars

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

Dear Ms. Raybourn,

I seem to have a “thing” for brides on the run. Perhaps it’s a leftover from one of my guilty pleasure movies “Smokey and the Bandit,” but regardless it seems to be like ringing a dinner bell for me. The blurb might make one think Poppy is a scatterbrained nitwit but it’s soon obvious that family pressure pushed her into the engagement while her common sense that the marriage would never work out got her out. After all, in this age of “divorce is possible but still scandalous in upper class society” pulling the escape ripcord before the vows makes more sense. And since her own parents went through a divorce, I can see where she’d be skittish.

Who is Masterman? There’s obviously more than meets the eye with Poppy’s masterful lady’s maid. But then it’s pretty obvious that there’s more than meets the eye about a lot of these characters. Some surprised me while others didn’t at all given the clues and vibes about them. That was part of the fun of the story – getting to see if I guessed correctly.

Fans of the Lady Julia series will be happy about Poppy’s family connections though it is a bit sad to see how her father’s marriage turned out. The book is also slightly tied in with “Spear” as well though I think – I hope – that this will be expanded on in a future book. There are enough “deliberately left loose” ends for quite a few more stories in this world.

Poppy is definitely an upper-class Englishwoman and she acts as I would expect one to. The East is mysterious and unknown to her so she buys into some of the stereotypes but at least she’s aware she’s doing it. Is she showing her privilege? Yes but again, with no previous exposure to the countries, customs or people it would seem strange to me if she didn’t. Some of the people around her are more experienced and it’s obvious that many of them love the place and people. Poppy is more than open to learning the beauty that is to be found here as well as seeing the reality of the political turmoil that is roiling just under the surface.

I have meant to read the previous book to this, “City of Jasmine” though after a certain character gets introduced and explains his relationship to Sebastian, I already know the details of that story. It’s right about this time that the book shifts into gear for me. Up til then, it was a lot of setting up the characters, the place, the reasons why Poppy heads out on a lark to find Sebastian. I was also unsure exactly who would be the hero as there’s a plethora of men who enter Poppy’s life.

Once Our Hero arrives back in the story, it’s clear who Poppy will end up with even without the murder. I love the way that the alpha/beta thing gets played with a little. Just which is Sebastian? He can shift depending on what he’s up to being both a quoter of poetry and a man of action when the situation demands. He’s got a realistic grasp on the situation there and what you must be ready to do if you wish to survive.

The opening scene of the book is straight out of a screwball comedy. I love the way he and Poppy can snark at and tease each other. They both just sound so British in how they can enjoy taking the piss out of each other. However the comedy can become a mystery and then a thriller at the drop of a hat before twisting back to comedy again. One minute I’m on the edge of my seat as guns are leveled and shots taken then I’m laughing again as Sebastian deadpans his way through the tight spot.

With the page count dwindling, I did wonder how they’d escape from their captors and if they’d find the you-know-what. It all happened so neatly that I didn’t see it coming until Poppy had proved herself in the field – I loved that she took an active part in saving them – and the cavalry had arrived. But then, things sort of slipped into a lower gear and a lot of explanation occurred that slowed things down to a crawl. I was on an emotional high and giddy at the way Sebastian and Poppy survived only to get bogged down in a Human Resources meeting. It does make sense to me that Poppy needs to think through what she’s just been through but this part got draggy and she seemed to lose some of her agency.

The book does end on a higher note. You’ve left some pieces to be picked up and loose ends to knit into another story. While I don’t doubt that Poppy and Sebastian might pop up at a later time, their story here is complete. I also adore how Poppy turns the tables on Sebastian and regains a bit of control that I’d felt she lost. I had a blast dipping into a 1920s time frame that didn’t involve the usual Downton Abbey plot and that took advantage of the fascinating political situation in the Middle East. I only hope that future books will return here and mine it and the characters even more. B

~Jayne

AmazonBNKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle

REVIEW:  Surviving America’s Sweetheart by Lori Green

REVIEW: Surviving America’s Sweetheart by Lori Green

surviving

What would happen if the Bachelorette found herself in the Hunger Games?

Riley Davenport has it all. She’s America’s Sweetheart, the lucky woman seeking her true love from a pool of twenty-five handsome bachelors. All she has to do is survive.
The odds are stacked against her. With Lucifer and God trying to one-up each other using reality television as their new battleground, Riley must fight murderous demons, boring angels and jaded TV hosts for her happily ever after.

As long as the hot tub isn’t filled with molten lava, she might have a fighting chance. If she doesn’t lose her life, she might lose her heart.

Dear Ms Green,

I saw this listed in our submissions section and something called out to me, “read this this one.” Maybe it’s the “mish-mash” plot. Perhaps it was the excerpt. But anyway, I pushed back the book I had been planning to read that day and queued this one up on the ereader.

What a cute premise! It’s different, it’s timely, it’s a crazy mix of reality/dating TV shows with a paranormal romance that winds up sending them both up. I don’t read too many paranormals and have never watched any reality TV so perhaps that’s why it all seemed so fresh to me but I had a blast reading it.

Since we the readers and Riley can’t know much about each bachelor – after all it would ruin the ratings if everyone knew who was going to start the demon fighting – having it be a first person point of view narrative makes sense. And since even the show host much less Riley doesn’t know demon from angel from mere mortal – though everyone has their suspicions – it certainly adds spice to Riley’s picks and dates.

Riley is a woman unabashedly out to find the love of her life. As such, she’s as prone to weak knees from a soul melting kiss as the next woman. But she’s also done her research on the show – demon fights generally occur on the second day during the group date – and her prep work with fight trainers, exercise coaches and fitness gurus. She’s as ready to fight off the hell spawn as she can be while keeping an open mind as to who gets a rose at the end of the night. I do love the way she tries to ensure that her two final picks are men she might actually have a future with rather than just ones who trip her trigger and send her pulses racing. Her ultimate choice is based in mutual compatibility and a hilarious final date.

“Surviving America’s Sweetheart” is fast, fun and funny though the humor is more silly than actually black, IMO. I did notice a continuity name issue and a few of the sentences needed to be read a few times for the meaning to be plain but I’m glad to gave this one a try. B

~Jayne

AmazonBNKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle