May. 17th, 2017

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1. What you just finished reading?

The Duke by Kerrigen Byrne which was good for what it was. It's a Victorian era historical romance. The lead characters are rather wounded in the novel, but the heroine, is no damsel and in many ways saves the hero from himself. There is an explicit sex scene that is...a bit rough, it's not rape, more seduction...or angry sex than anything else. But it may trigger some folks. Don't know.
The hero, or Duke, is a spy who got caught in the Ottoman empire during the April Uprising. He ends up losing his left hand and is imprisoned. After he's rescued, the heroine is assigned as his nurse and takes care of him. She figures out that he has septis instead of typhus. She's assigned to his care, because she's the only person in the ward that already had typhus and survived. They'd met previously, but he doesn't remember what she looked like. The woman he remembers was pale, with raven locks, and delicate bones -- he was rather drunk at the time, and she was wearing makeup and a wig.
This woman - he'd fallen for. Oh, and that night, he'd taken her virginity, but was kind and sweet about it -- considering he bought it for 20 pounds. After she saves his life, she's kicked out of the hospital because the head doc is upset that she overstepped his authority. And then she's almost raped by a customer at the bar she's been forced to work at to pay off her father's dept. (Instead she stabs the guy in the throat and thinking she killed him (she didn't) off she goes to rob the kindly Earl she'd been nursing. The Earl catches her and marries her. He's dying of cancer and is much much older. And he just happens to live next door to the Duke. The Earl dies and the heroine is now the Duke's next door neighbor...much chaos ensues. Oh and there's a serial killer wandering about that is targeting her.

This writer likes serial killers. The last two books in her series had them too. Personally, I find the whole serial killer trope a bit overdone and cliche. Which is my main quibble with the novel. Well that and I felt it sort of drooped or fell short at the end. Started out great, loved the first two thirds of it, but the last fifty pages...meh.

2. What you are reading now?

The Smoke Thief which is rather interesting in that it is a paranormal historical romance novel about people who can shift into dragons. Both the hero and heroine are rather strong and the banter is great between them. This writer is rather good at dialogue and banter. (Not all are, and I'm nit-picky about dialogue, more so than anything else. Possibly a result of reading a million plays when I was a youngster. Don't know.)

The story starts when the hero and heroine are kids, well after prologue explaining the verse is out of the way. There's some expository material in the beginning of the book which explains who these people are, why they can become dragons, and the central conflict of their kind. She does it rather quickly -- so it's not complex. If you are looking for Lord of the Rings look elsewhere. The main point of the story is the romance.

Anyhow, the heroine has a crush on the hero, until she accidentally finds him romancing her nemesis and the local mean girl -- who has chased and beaten her up on various occasions. Apparently he'd slept with the mean girl, Melanie, and the heroine, Rue, woke up and well happened upon them. They discover's humiliating, he let's her go. She's twelve, he's sixteen, and Melanie is sixteen at the time.

Years pass, Rue, manages to Turn into a dragon on her 17th birthday. No other woman has ever managed this in centuries. She runs, because she's terrified they will force her to wed the marquess, and he obviously doesn't care for her or notice her. He calls her "Mouse" at this stage, so yes, he noticed her. And from his perspective, is rather intrigued by her even at that point. But she's unaware of it.

The story has more than one point of view. We have the Marquess aka Kit Langford, the hero, Rue Hawthorn Hillard, the heroine, and for some odd reason Nick Beaton, a far. So we may get more.

Rue takes off...and becomes a jewel thief or the Smoke Thief of the title. The papers report her crimes, Langford and the rest of his group/tribe become suspicious and go searching for the thief, who they believe is "male" not "female". They plant a priceless diamond for the thief to steal as bait. When they discover the thief is a female drakon - ie someone who can change to dragon, they get excited and their purpose shifts completely. And while pursuing her, the diamond is stolen out from under their noses.

3. What I'm reading next?

No idea. I certainly have plenty of things to choose from. Including a nonfiction historical about women spies during the Civil War that I picked up on a whim.


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