Tag Archives: April 2011

Guest Review: Defiant by Kris Kennedy

Erin’s Review:

Defiant by Kris Kennedy
Medieval romance released by Pocket Books on April 26, 2011

England, 1215, the eve of Magna Carta
Jamie Lost is the king’s most renowned commander, an audacious knight ordered to kidnap an exiled priest before rebel forces close in. The mission is simple–until he comes up against a mysterious woman on a mission, a thief who will first steal his quarry and then his heart.

Eva is also seeking Father Peter, but she intends to protect him from a secret that endangers his life, even if it costs her own.  She is well aware danger lies everywhere, especially in the knight showing too much interest in her activities.  But deep inside, Eva knows the danger lies not in Jamie, but in her, in the desire he awakens in her body and her heart.

When a mysterious band of armed mercenaries upends both their plans and abducts the priest, Jamie and Eva must form an uneasy alliance, and as civil war unfolds around them, they embark on an epic journey that betrays the truth about their identities, their unexpected loyalties, and the dangerous attraction that could seal their fates forever.

Kris Kennedy is not only a new author for me but her book Defiant is set in a historical time frame in which I read very little (early 13th century) as my historical preference is Regency to Victorian. Usually when I read books set further back they are time travel or other type of paranormal romances.

The heroine of the story, Eva is a strong, feisty woman who has spent the last ten years of her life struggling to stay alive and protect her young friend, Roger. Not only is she resourceful, familiar with with a blade, and hiding in plain sight, but also witty, and quick thinking. She understands both her strengths and her weaknesses allowing her to use them to her advantage. She, with 15 year old Roger in tow, attempts to save Father Peter, an old friend, from the King, the Rebels and certain death.

Jamie is a hard, violent man known for his deadly sword and changing loyalties, who instantly sees through Eva’s deceptions and lies. He is cold and willing to do about anything to gain the information he needs to complete his task. Due to his past, Jamie falls to see his own worth. He is cold and calculating and exploits relationships, including the one with Eva, to gain the information he needs.

The book starts off with the detailed observations of Eva and Jamie, which bogs down the pace of the story. The relationship that grows between them is based on their observations of each other with short banter intermingled with their thoughts. Neither trusts the other and frequently remind the reader of their plans to betray. The observations of each are repetitive and droning, which makes it difficult to understand how a romance is developing between the two based on anything other than a mutual physical attraction. I was furthered bother by the repeating of the the same descriptions over and over. While some repetition, when it is spread out through out the story, can be effective, having the same line repeated (like knows like) three times within about thirty pages is ineffective. I was also distracted by Eva suddenly dropping into old English at the start of some conversations. It was inconsistent and instead of adding flavor and realism to the story it broke the flow of reading and seemed out of place.

As the story races to a conclusion, the pace of the book picks up and it is almost as if you’re reading a different story with different characters. The author stressed so much the distrust between Eva and Jamie that it is difficult to see how their relationship evolved, and it seems to be change that is contrived. Because Eva never acknowledges that she is starting to trust Jamie, her actions for the rest of the book are out of character. At times she feels betrayed by Jamie, but simply tosses those feelings aside so unlike the Eva at the beginning of the book. She no longer shows any anger or questions Jamie, just acceptance of whatever he throws at her. Instead it is almost like Stockholm syndrome, especially given the violence (choking her twice, physical intimidation, and tying her up until she agrees to behave) and captivity Eva endures from Jamie in the first half of the book. This Eva is a far cry from the bold as brass woman who, at the beginning of the novel, hoodwinked a ship’s captain, choked a man unconscious, and held a blade to a bishop’s throat.

The book and it’s plot had a lot of potential, but the author did not quite pull it off. The first half of the book would have been better served with less description and more focus in the second half on smoothing out the romance between them. It wouldn’t have taken much, a bit of anger from Eva at Jamie’s disloyalty, a few gentle touches in passing by Jamie, or some show of emotion between them that went beyond physical attraction. Otherwise, it is a decent read for the intrigue, but expect the romance to meander through the story.

Grade: D+

You can read an excerpt here, and buy it here. Ms. Kennedy also participated in a Teaser Tuesday as well, so there’s another exclusive excerpt here!

Guest Review: Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell

Another review from our friend Caffey Cathie!

Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell
Historical romance release by Avon, April 26, 2011

London’s most notorious seducer, Nicholas Challoner lives solely for revenge . . .

The dashing, licentious Marquess of Ranelaw can never forgive Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister—now the time has come to repay the villain in the same coin. But one formidably intriguing impediment stands in the way of Nicholas’s vengeance: Miss Antonia Smith, companion to his foe’s unsuspecting daughter.

Having herself been deceived and disgraced by a rogue—banished by her privileged family as a result and forced to live a lie—Antonia vows to protect her charge from the same cruel fate. She recognizes Ranelaw for the shameless blackguard he is and will devote every ounce of her intelligence and resolve to thwarting him.

Yet Antonia has always had a fatal weakness for rakes . . .

I haven’t read all of Anna Campbell historical romances, but after this read of Midnight’s Wild Passion, I so want to experience this special way she writes again. Ms. Campbell has a way of bringing us back to the heroes of those historical romances from the bodice rippers time without the bodice rippers heroines! You get the feel of that intensity of the hero as a rake but with a strong heroine.

Midnight’s Wild Passion takes place in London 1827. Our hero, Nicholas Challoner, Marquess of Ranelaw is a rake and if his plans go as he predicts he will be one of the worst. As he has set out in revenge for his half sister, Eloise, who was ruined by Godfrey Demarest, one of the richest men in England. Godfrey Demarest, known as Demarest, is a womanizer and gone for most of the book in Paris pursuing women. He was one of his Nicholas’s father’s friends. Ranelaw’s hatred for Demarest is intense and has been stirring on him for years. That hate is what finally has drives Ranelaw to action.

Ranelaw sets out to attend balls and parties as a ruse, pretending to be in need of a wife. He’s not under suspicion because of his age. Ranelaw plans to seduce Demarest’s daughter, Miss Cassandra Demarest. Cass is out for her debut. She’s a mostly smart, sensible young woman. For Ranelaw to get to Cass, he first he has to get by her chaperone, Antonia Hilliard, aka Antonia Smith.

Antonia’s second cousin and employer, Demarest, is Cass’s father. In exchange for a place to stay, Antonia agrees to chaperone Cass’s debut into society while Demarest is in Paris. Antonia knows all about rakes. She was ruined 10 years ago, falling for a rake herself. She hides behind her glasses as a chaperone and no one suspects anything, but Ranelaw. She needs to remain hidden and any misstep in her identity and being discovered will bring scandal to Cass. Ranelaw begins to see the real beauty of Antonia behind her drape-less dark dresses, glasses and her role as a chaperone. Based on how Antonio meets Ranelaw, there’s a challenge immediately between them. The banter with Antonia and Ranelaw is a delight to read! The more she confronts him and attempts to keep him away from Cass, the more he’s up to the challenge to get her both Cass and Antonia. He wanted his pursuit of Antonia to be private but his interest in Cass to be the talk of the ton!

As the story unfolds, more of Ranelaw is revealed about his half-sister’s disgrace, his family, as well as his hatred for his father. There are scenes that bring out the strong emotions that Ranelaw hadn’t shown or revealed. He’s finding and believing he’s not the cruel rake he thought himself. This may sound like a familiar theme, but this author has a special way that is felt so strongly by the reader. The characters come to life as well as the settings and scenery of the book. I fell more in love with Ranelaw after each page. So many of the characters dealing with ruination and how harsh it was during society that they had to hide for the rest of their lives. But even more so, how it affected Ranelaw as a child and into his adulthood. He had set out to get revenge for what Godfrey Demarest did to his sister by planning to ruin Demarest’s daughter Cass. But Antonia gets in the way, in a way that was so unexpected for him that his plans don’t go as he wanted. Love gets in the way. The unique story of the heroine hiding as a chaperone was unique to read. As Antonia feels her past is happening all over again, this time Ranelaw, she feels a love like nothing before but still a future that would be worse if she is found out. Ranelaw is melting for Antonia. His good side is coming out and he feels it too. The intensity between Antonia is a strong sexual tension but so much more, a strong emotional one that they feel for each other.

Grade: A