Nov 28, 2017

Review: THE SHADOW AND THE STAR by Laura Kinsale

He is a man of dark secrets—wealthy, strong, majestically handsome—the master of the ancient arts of a distant land. Scarred by a cruel childhood, he has sworn only to love chastely ... yet he burns with the heat of unfulfilled desire.

She is innocent and nearly destitute, yet she possesses a beauty as incandescent as a heavenly orb. And she is drawn to this powerful stranger by a need she cannot deny.

Never has such passion so consumed a man and a woman. But by giving his heart freely, the Shadow risks everything he believes in. And to follow her enigmatic warrior means the Star must enter his world of intrigue, vengeance, and desire—and surrender to the most dangerous love there ever could be.

In January, 2015 I fell in love with a book, a book so beautiful it was more than enough to make me a fan of the author who wrote it. Since Flowers from the Storm I've only read three more novels penned by Laura Kinsale, in part because knowing I still have several of her books left to read comforts me, and in part because I'm a bit of a chicken -- Ms. Kinsale's books are beautifully written, but not always easy to read. In all honesty, I started reading The Shadow and the Star way back in May. After only a few pages, I decided I wasn't ready to find out what the main characters would have to go through to get their happy ending. Once November came, I figured it was high time I read the novel Laura Kinsale declared as her favorite book she'd written.

Now, I feel silly for waiting this long to read it because it exceeded my high expectations. It's been too long since I loved a book as much as I loved The Shadow and the Star. I was on the brink of tears when I finished it, not because it was a sad ending, but because I didn't want to let it go. 449 pages, yet it ended all too soon. Not even an epilogue was there to comfort me.

That was four days ago. Ever since I've been trying to find the right words to express what it was that once again made me fall in love with Ms. Kinsale's storytelling, but I'm afraid whatever I come up with, doesn't seem enough. Lets just say it was everything, okay? The Shadow and the Star reminded me of the time I first read this author. What wonderful and nerve-racking reading experiences! Laura Kinsale's heroes and heroines have mountains of trouble to conquer before getting to their happy ending. I normally breathe a sigh of relief when I get to the last page and find the main characters in a good place at last. This time was different. I was about halfway through when I finally started believing that no matter what happened, it would be alright in the end, and I realized that even when it seemed like a chasm was opening between the main characters, Samuel and Leda, Ms. Kinsale was actually very slowly bringing them together. Their 449 pages long journey was an emotional roller coaster: heartbreaking mostly, but also heartwarming, at times frustrating, and even though I was often dangerously close to crying, there were parts I found amusing, and instances when I would just laugh out loud.

I've been reading what I wrote about Flowers from the Storm, and this part caught my attention: the main reason I fell in love with this book was Christian Langland, Duke of Jervaulx. I could say the same thing now, just with a different name: the main reason I fell in love with this book was Samuel Gerard. Tortured heroes seem to be a specialty of Ms. Kinsale, and Samuel was tortured as they come. He first appeared in The Hidden Heart as a boy in horrendous circumstances, to say the least. I haven't read that book, but that part of Samuel's life was covered enough not to feel important pieces of his backstory were missing. Besides that, there were chapters which were snippets from Samuel's past showing how he became who he was in the present time: from coming to Hawaii to live with Lady Tess, to being trained by their Japanese butler in ancient martial arts, deciding to marry Kai, Lady Tess's daughter, once she was old enough, and working hard to be a successful businessman and worthy of Kai. He had made decisions regarding his future and was focused on accomplishing his goals. In present time, Samuel and the Ashland family were in London for Her Majesty's Jubilee. There, Samuel, or the Shadow Warrior, crossed paths with Leda, and his life started going the way he never planned.

Leda's circumstances were bad at the beginning. She had been brought up as a proper lady, but after both her guardian and the first heir to her guardian's house died, she had to move and rent a shabby room in a dreadful neighborhood. She was barely making ends meet working as a showroom woman, and even that position she had to leave when her employer made apparent the dishonorable way of earning extra money. From there on her situation only got worse. Then one night a stranger broke into her room, only it wasn't a stranger at all, but Mr. Gerard, the devastatingly handsome, cold angel she had met just before she had to resign her job. She helped him, and chose not to disclose his crimes to the police, but only when she had to abandon her room without anything did she find herself in front of Samuel's house ready to accept his offer to become his secretary.

In the Ashlands' home Leda was welcomed with open arms. Bickering with Samuel about proper behavior aside, she was comfortable and safe. A true friendship was forming between them, with stolen glances, touches, words and thoughts alluding to stronger feelings. Leda was first to admit to herself she had fallen in love with Mr. Gerard. Samuel, on the other hand, was quite clueless in figuring out his feelings. The aloof, cold, calm, calculated man turned out to be none of those things inside. He was apparently in turmoil since he met Leda. His desire for her shamed him, though if he was being honest, he did everything to tie her to him. His mind was troubled -- he burned for one woman, and was planning to propose to another, not even realizing his feelings for Kai were those of a protective brother or that his vision of their life together was nowhere near to one of a happy, married couple in love. Oh, the man was deeply conflicted, it was painful to read. The mountain of trouble this hero had to conquer was in his mind. Luckily, despite his determination to stay away from Leda, his body lead him right to her -- a repeating theme throughout the book. It took an intervention from Lady Tess and Lord Gryphon to convince him to do right by Leda. However, with Leda's primness and apparent inability to be frank and open about anything but furniture, it would seem, and Samuel's reserved nature, these two still had a long way to go. I wouldn't say they succeeded at openness even at the end. That's why I wished there was an epilogue, to find them happy and laughing for once, especially Samuel. Yeah, Samuel's laughter would have been nice to wrap it all up.

What can I say in the end, except that Laura Kinsale is a freaking genius. The Shadow and the Star is so richly written, what I wrote about it is only a part of the story I didn't want to end. Ordering another of her books helped with the book hangover, though I'd feel much better if I heard the news Ms. Kinsale was publishing a new novel. In the meantime, I still have eight more of her books to read. Eight more heroes to develop an embarrassing crush on.

Until next time, happy reading!


Nov 20, 2017

Cover Reveal: OVER US, OVER YOU by Whitney G.

Subject: Delete this message after you read it...

Dear Hayley,

I'm assuming you're still hungover, so I'll make this brief.

Last night, you slipped under my sheets (without my permission), and we almost had sex. I got the hell out of the bed once I realized it was you, and I took you home.

That's the story.

The end.


Just in case you've forgotten, you're my best friend's little sister. We will never be anything more. (We can't be anything more.) Our previous friendship is still unresolved--or "over" in your terms, so I'd prefer if we worked on becoming 'just friends' again since you're in town.

Nonetheless, I'm not a man who leaves questions unanswered--even the drunken ones, so to properly close our inappropriate conversation:

1) Yes, I liked the way your lips felt against mine when you were on top of me.
2) Yes, I do "prefer" rough sex, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't rough with you.
3) No, I had no idea you were still a virgin...

This message never happened,

Expected release date: November 30, 2017

 Amazon | iBooks  

Until next time, happy reading!


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