Saturday, August 08, 2015

Review: Bound to the Warrior King by Maisey Yates

I wanted to read this book because I'm a big fan of Maisey Yates' Presents books and I thought the cover was gorgeous. In this case, completely safe to judge the book by its cover as the story was equally gorgeous - hmm, can you call a story gorgeous?

On a different day, in a different mood, I might have been rolling my eyes at parts of this modern day, grown-up version of Beauty and the Beast with a bit of Lion King. (I'm not going to explain it, but it will make sense if you read the book). However, today, as I spent my third consecutive day sick in bed, realizing that if I succumb to this fever, it will be at least nine days before anyone even thinks to look for my body, this story of two people who felt completely alone in the world finding each other and falling in love through a somewhat arranged marriage was a really beautiful story.  If I wasn't so dehydrated, I probably would have cried through parts of it.

There were a few parts of the story that I didn't like all that much. Parts in which the characters behavior didn't seem to fit with their previous behavior.  A few too many times they went from so wrapped up in each other to a strange, nope, don't want you. It was as if the conflict was obligatory and not natural to the story. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil the story, and it's probably not something that would bother other people that much. But anyway. All that being said, I still really liked this book. The great parts of this book totally make up for any parts I didn't like.

Two years after Olivia's husband - a king of a Scandinavian country - dies, she agrees to meet with Tarek. the new leader of an oil rich Middle Eastern country, in hopes of procuring a marriage. Her husband's brother is now king and he thinks it would be a good way to strengthen ties between the two nations, and Olivia no longer feels at home at the palace she once shared with her husband, so she's completely willing to go.

At first there seemed to be something a little pathetic about Olivia, seeking out a marriage to "find her place" as if a woman can't do that without a husband. But seeing her move beyond that kind of thinking added to my interest in this story. Olivia felt neglected as a child, and her marriage had been happy, but after her husband's death, she found herself alone again, an outsider in the palace she'd once called home. Tarek also has some issues. He's spent the last fifteen years living in the desert, acting as a warrior for his brother and their country. He knew nothing of palace life or running a country when he suddenly found himself in that position following his brother's death. He's very focused on his new job and views marriage as nothing more than a way to produce an heir. He's not very impressed with Olivia at their first meeting, but she convinces him that he needs her to help figure out all the details of running a country and living in a palace - something she knows a bit about.

I very much enjoyed reading about how these two fell for each other. As I said in the beginning, it's quite reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast (one of my favorite movies). And it's very, very romantic. I don't just mean the sex is good - it is, of course - but it's so much more than that. It's the thoughts running through their heads as they discover each other and in turn, themselves and become aware of these feelings they didn't even think were possible. This is two people who weren't at all sure about each other who gradually reach a point in which they can't bear to be away from each other. Two people who had nothing and no one who find everything in each other. I know that's what all romances are to some extent, but this is so good. Yates does a great job of showing just how alone these two people were before meeting each other.  You aren't just told they were alone, you can feel their emptiness as well as feel them finally moving away from that. As I warned in the beginning, I'm running a fever and I'm taking all kinds of cold medicine, so maybe I'm feeling a little extra sappy today, but some of these scenes rank among the best I've ever read with regard to pure, indulgent romance.  Swoon-worthy. The scene out in the desert when Tarek takes Olivia to show her the place he lived for the fifteen years he was away. Wow.

It's a quick read, perfect for a brief escape from reality. Highly recommend this book if sexy, romantic modern day fairy tales are your thing.

I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Review: The Ones We Trust by Kimberly Belle

This was a good book. It held my interest. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started the story. Takes place in DC, involving a former journalist. I saw one review compare it to an episode of Scandal, which I've never seen, but have some idea as to what it is about.

In the beginning, we're told about a story Abigail wrote - the one that ended her career. After exposing someone, the person committed suicide and Abigail left journalism due to her guilt. Initially, I thought the story would be about this particular case, but it gets mentioned a little bit, and then the focus of the story is on something completely different.

I felt like maybe there were too many "ripped from the headlines" issues happening in this book. Every time something else was mentioned, I thought of an actual news story that was similar.  I think maybe this book would have worked better if there had been more focus on one particular story line.

After receiving a mysterious envelope on her doorstep, Abigail finds herself doing research again and getting involved with the Armstrong family. Gabe Armstrong lost a brother in Afghanistan and he doesn't believe the story being told by the army. Coincidentally, Abigail's dad is the general involved in what appears to be a cover-up.

I guess I expected something more sinister and dramatic. The truth was certainly intense and a pretty big surprise, but not what I thought it was going to be.

Rather than a mystery/suspense story about a journalist uncovering government scandals, which is what I assumed this book was leading up to be, it turned out to be more about families and guilt and forgiveness and most importantly, trust.  There's also a bit of a romance happening in the story, but it's not at all the main point of the story.

I think I wanted more shocking scandal, more journalist in action and less family drama. Overall, it's a good book. I didn't love it but I also didn't dislike it.

I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Review: Beware of Me by Cynthia Eden

I liked this book a lot. This is the fourth book in Cynthia Eden's Dark Obsession series and it was as entertaining as the other books in the series. As expected from this series, lots of action and danger, plenty of surprise twists in the story that keep you guessing and a very steamy romance.

Ethan Barclay has had a fairly significant role in all the books in this series. He's something of a crime boss - maybe - sort of a shadowy character, involved with a lot of bad people. But there's always been something about him - in each book we got to see a little more of him, always realizing he wasn't quite as bad as he seems.

I was so glad that he got a story of his own in Beware of Me. Ethan's the first to point out that he's a bad guy. But this bad guy would do anything for the woman he loves, the woman he feels he owes his life to. Carly was just a teenager when she saved Ethan's life. Afterwards, he thought the best thing he could do for her was keep her far away from him. But in Carly's eyes, he abandoned her when she needed him the most. Now, years later, he wants back in her life and knowing what he's become, she wants nothing to do with him.

Someone is after Carly though, and it's connected to what happened in their past, and Ethan isn't going to let Carly get hurt.

I like that Eden's heroines are always tough and independent. Even when her life is in danger, Carly's determined to not depend entirely on Ethan. She's not stupid, she figures out fairly quickly that she does need his help, but that doesn't mean she's going to let him control her. No matter what, she needs to be in control of her own life. And I loved how Ethan was so careful with Carly, taking into account what she'd been through in the past and making sure she never felt threatened by him, even if it meant having to exhibit some serious willpower. That's my favorite kind of hero - the guy who has all the potential to be bad but he refuses to give into his dark tendencies because that's how much he cares about the woman he's with.  That describes a lot of the guys Eden writes about and that's why I really love reading her books.

The story is very fast paced, which I usually like because I do tend to read these while traveling and like to finish the book before the plane lands - but maybe because I read this one at home, I found myself kind of wishing there was more to the story. That's not a complaint about the story, I just really liked these characters and didn't want their story to end so quickly.

This book is considered a stand alone, but I highly recommend you read the entire series, especially for this book because the other books add so much to who Ethan is. Also the books are good and worth reading.

I received a review copy via NetGalley.