Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Huntress by Susan Carroll

PAGES: 490
SETTING: Historical - Tudor England/France - 1585
TYPE: Historical Fiction - Romance
SERIES: 4th book in the Daughters of the Earth (Faire Isle) Series
REASON FOR READING: I greatly enjoyed the first three books in the series, The Dark Queen (B+), The Courtesan (A-), and The Silver Rose (B-).

In a time of intrigue and betrayal, the huntress is on a quest that could jeopardize two empires and two great queens: Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I.

The year is 1585–and prophecy has foretold the coming of a daughter of the Earth whose powers are so extraordinary they could usurp the very rule of the Dark Queen herself, Catherine de Medici. Dispatched from Brittany to London, Catriona O’Hanlon, known as the Huntress, must find this mysterious young girl and shield her from those who will exploit her mystic abilities, which have the potential to change the course of history.

Catriona’s skill with weaponry is all she has to protect herself and her young charge from spies who snake through the courts of Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen–including the girl’s own father, whose loyalties are stretched to the breaking point. But Catriona will soon face menacing forces and sinister plots unlike any she has ever encountered.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this series was not actually a trilogy since the third book left a lot of unanswered questions. The previous books in the series told the stories of the three Cheney sisters. It is now a couple years later in 1585 and this fourth book tells the story of Catriona O'Hanlon, one of Ariane Cheney's most trusted friends. Ariane is the leader of the Daughters of the Earth, a group of healers (some call them witches) who reside on Faire Isle in France.

Cat is called the Huntress for her fierce warrior-like qualities and her feisty personality. Ariane has assigned her the task of locating a sorceress's daughter, Megaera, and bringing her back to the Faire Isle where she will be safe from the evil machinations of Catherine de Medici, known as the Dark Queen. Martin le Loup has fled France with his daughter, eleven year old Meg, to England certain he can keep her safer with him. He is living disguised as an Englishman in London and is trying to mold Meg into a proper English lady.

Cat is just the type of heroine I adore. She's a real spitfire with her red hair and Irish temper. She can wield a sword or shoot a bow and arrow and she takes her role as a warrior seriously. And she's not afraid to speak her mind. But she also has a vulnerable side and has her insecurities. I love heroines with a tough outer shell and a mushy center. When she locates Martin and Meg she tries to convince Martin to take Meg to Faire Isle, but he refuses.

But Martin has become embroiled in some political intrigue and an intricate assassination plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Martin and Cat have some entertaining verbal battles over who can protect Meg and I thoroughly enjoyed their conflicts when he and his servants try to get rid of her. They have great chemistry together. But Cat is a tough cookie and she won't be dislodged from her appointed task of keeping Meg safe from a sinister coven that practices the dark arts. They want Meg for her mystical powers which she inherited from her mother. In addition the evil Dark Queen wants the Book of Shadows that Meg is hiding.

It all sounds a little complicated but don't worry, it was easy to follow. In fact, I thought the middle sagged a bit when not enough was happening. But the last third was fast paced with some spicy love scenes. This is not a story about witches and magic, it only provided a little backdrop to the plot. Queen Elizabeth makes a short appearance near the last too. Carroll skillfully weaves together fact and fiction and I found it fascinating. If not for the sagging middle this one would have been a keeper. However, it was still as enjoyable as the rest of the books in the series. If you enjoyed the others, I'm sure you'll like this one.

MISCELLANEOUS: After visiting her website, I found out that she is planning a 5th book in the series. Oh, happy, happy, joy, joy!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Women Read More Than Men

Here is a fascinating article about why women read more than men. As an experiment someone gave out free books in a London park. The women takers were "eager and grateful" while the men "frowned in suspicion or distaste".

I can't say I'm surprised. Bob and I are good example of this.

2007 Reads
Me: 88
Bob: 0

I rest my case.

How much has your significant other read this year?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Four books in four days

Just got back from a short vacation. We went camping in our RV to Pearrygin Lake State Park near Winthop, Washington. We went there last year and I believe I blogged about it then. The weather was beautiful ... sunny, warm, perfect temperature. The mama deer and their babies were running free through the park at all hours of the day. The baby fawns are so cute.

With all that free time I was able to finish four books in four days. You'd think I had my nose in a book the entire time but I managed to do some walking, shopping in town, and catching up on my naps :) It's amazing how much reading I can do if I don't have people bugging me.

Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard (2007 - romantic suspense)
I liked UC&D better than LH's last two books (Cover of Night and Killing Time). The plot was more believable and more romantic. Bailey Wingate and Cam Justice are left stranded after the small plane he is piloting for her crash lands in the mountains of Idaho. The majority of the book reads like a survivalist how-to book and I found it fascinating. Cam and Bailey begin the book as antagonistic towards each other before the crash but afterwards they learn to rely on each other and their survival skills in order to make it off the mountain alive. And the sexual tension slowly heats up. Some of it was a bit unrealistic (would you want to have sex in those conditions?) but I didn't care. I loved Cam's sexy Texas drawl and Bailey's steady competent strength. My only complaint is the suspense was rather light and the too fast and quick ending. I want an epilogue! My grade: A-

Wild Wild West by Charlene Teglia (2007 - contemporary erotic romance)
WWW was hot, sexy, steamy, sizzling and yummy. The book tells the story of three couples with about 1/3 of the book devoted to each couple. Three women and three cowboys meet in an espresso cafe in Missoula Montana. They pair up and each couple has an extremely erotic evening which leads to relationships and happy endings. The last story started going into that sub-dom crap I hate and I started to think I better skip it, but it was very lightly done and never got really heavy. If you like your erotica with romance and happy endings, then you'll love this one. My grade: B+

Arousing Suspicions by Marianne Stillings (2007 - romantic suspense)
I read Stillings' first book and didn't like it that well but I decided to give her 4th book a try. And I am pleased to report that I enjoyed it very much. Tabitha March is a psychic "dream interpreter". Nate Darling is a police detective investigating a murder. Tabitha approaches him about a client who has dreamt of that murder and of course Nate doesn't believe her. Eventually, Nate goes back to her when the evidence points to that dream and Nate doesn't quite know if Tabitha may be a suspect. They begin working together to solve the crime. Tabitha and Nate are good characters and the book has quite a bit of humor that worked for me. I'll be trying Stillings again. My grade: B

Mad Dash by Patricia Gaffney (2007 - contemporary chick lit)
I'm not that crazy about chick lit but DearAuthor's review made me want to give this book a try and I'm glad I did. I liked the fact that it wasn't all written in first person. Dash's POV was first person but we also get portions of the book with husband Andrew's POV written in third person. Dash Bateman is going through a mid-life crisis after her mother dies and her daughter leaves home for college. She walks out on her husband after he objects to her keeping an abandoned puppy. I have to admit this book came a little too close to home and I found myself identifying with how she is feeling. Although I thought she was way too impulsive (something I'm not). I also sympathized with Andrew who was completely bewildered and clueless. I loved their story though and the ending was great too. My grade: B+

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Book meme

KristieJ tagged me for this meme weeks ago. I was too busy or too lazy, one or the other. Or on vacation.

1. Total number of books I own:
I can't compete with Kristie's 2289! And Rosie has her beat (2302). Incredible. I'm feeling completely deprived. Let's see... according to my spreadsheet I have 387 fiction books with about 25 mathematics and computer science textbooks I just can't part with (yeah, I'm a geek) left over from my college days from 10 years ago. Confession: I love to do calculus problems just for 'fun'. Then I have 196 in my TBR. That makes about 608. Pathetic. I need more bookshelves so I can keep more books.

2. Last book I bought
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh. Bought on Monday (Labor Day) with my 25% off coupon at Borders. I was there last Friday and forgot my coupon so I put it back on the shelf (bet you didn't know I had such willpower). Went back Monday and the stupid clerk claimed he scanned the coupon. Then he says "That will be $7.82". WTF??? I say "You forgot to scan the coupon." He says "Yes, I did." I say "No, you didn't." Looks and says "Oh." Good thing I was paying attention for once.

3. Last book I read
Tangled Up in You by Rachel Gibson. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I haven't liked the last couple of Gibson's books that much. This one was very good. Maybe I should review it.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I read this book as a young girl and it shaped my sense of social justice and influences my political leanings to this day.

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart - The first 'romantic' book I ever read. I was about 15 y.o. I devoured it and went on to read her entire backlist. This one still has a special place in my heart. Young Englishwoman on holiday in Greece encounters intrigue, suspense, danger and romance. *sigh* (be still my heart) I reread it often and it never grows old.

Red Adam's Lady by Grace Ingram - The best medieval romance I have ever read. Published in 1973. I paid $30 for my VHTF copy. Most I have ever paid for a used book. I keep promising to write a review but I hate to rave about a book that will be almost impossible for people to find.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - First time I finished this book, I started over and read it through front to back a second time. I loved the subtle English humor, the wonderful dialog, and the use of language and the character development.

Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard - The book I reread the most. Love the humor, the mail-order bride theme, the wonderful hero (who's a jerk but redeems himself in the end). And Maddie, what a heroine! Still one of the sexiest books I have ever read.

5. Tag 5 people
Well, I'm sure everyone's done this already.

Wow, I haven't touched my blog in over 6 years and I'm still logged in!  Good thing because I have no idea what my password is.  In ...