Anne here, bringing you this month's "What We're reading" in which the various wenches share their reading picks for the last month and everyone else joins in in the comments stream. Warning, it can be quite expensive. I've already bought three of this month's books.
We start with Pat Rice, who recommends Charming by Elliott James— an urban fantasy. Pat says: "I can’t remember who told me about this book, but thank you! It’s fantasy on a level with Patricia Briggs. The characterization is amazing.
The hero is an outcast from an ancient group of Knights Templar who are under a geas to protect the veil between humans and the supernatural. Because the hero’s mother was bitten by a werewolf, he has unnatural tendencies and is despised and hunted by his father’s knights. His conflicts are manifold but his sarcasm is hilarious.
Like Briggs, this is not a bloodfest nor erotica, but a strong contemporary fantasy with a fascinating stage of characters on a vampire hunt. The action scenes are beautifully choreographed and hard to skim, even though I usually skim violence the same way I do sex scenes. If you can handle another vampire hunter, check this one out."
Nicola says: I’ve been through a lot of different stuff in my reading this month. I’m not sure why I’m genre-hopping so much at the moment but I am. Here are the highlights. I caught up with one of Deborah Crombie’s 'Kincaid and Jones' series that I hadn’t read before, All Will Be Well. We’ve talked about this crime series a fair bit on Word Wenches before because a number of us are fans. I loved this book for the intricate plotting and the clever denouement. I also like the frisson of awareness that there is between Gemma and Duncan that you know is going to flare up into something hot!
Then I hopped to a thriller, Clive Cussler’s Skeleton Coast. I picked it up because I had been to the Skeleton Coast and the cover copy mentioned the mystery of a 19th century shipwreck. That was what drew me in. Unfortunately it barely featured in the story at all. The perils of being misled by cover copy!
My kindle burned the midnight oil over Christmas Ever After, by Sarah Morgan. I haven’t cried so much over a book – in a good way – for a long time! It’s no secret that Sarah is a friend of mine and I love her warm, funny stories, her gorgeous heroes and smart heroines. This was a very special read. (The US edition is a 2 in 1 with a book by Lori Foster!)
Now I’m trying a bit of historical non-fiction, How to Ruin a Queen by Jonathan Beckman. It’s non-fiction that reads like the raciest fiction, telling the story of how Queen Marie Antoinette’s reputation was ruined by the affair of the diamond necklace. Superb.
Cara/Andrea says: This past month, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of our own Nicola Cornick’s House of Shadows, which releases in the UK and Australia next week. Her debut into historical romantic mystery/suspense is a riveting read, featuring three timelines, a trio of complex heroines, a plot that twines the battle of good and evil over four centuries—oh, and did I mention a dash of magic! I found it hard to put down—was up way too late on several nights, thinking, “oh, just another chapter!”(And—no spoilers—I was delighted with how cleverly she tied up all the story threads in such a wonderful way.) It’s not yet released in the US, but you can order it at Book Depository.
And sticking with the historical mystery/suspense theme, I also glommed up Deanna Raybourn’s Night of a Thousand Stars, a rollicking adventure set in the the 1920s Middle East, with a wink and tip of the fedora to the Indiana Jones films and the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters. A little more humorous and tongue-in-cheek than her Lady Julia mysteries, it features Lady Julia’s headstrong niece, who climbs out the window of the church to avoid wedding a nice but boring aristocrat. She is, after all, one of the “Mad” March family of eccentrics—as she informs the charming curate who helps her escape. And with that the plot is off and running! It’s a madcap plot involving villains, a horde of historic gold, a sexy spy—all of which add up to a very fun, light-hearted read.
Joanna is in a reading slump and finding it hard to find books that truly engage her. She says: I can't do a WWR this month. There has been a lamentable lack of reading. Now, I've actually read some Dunnett and some Hillerman and some On Writing and some Bird by Bird, but those are authors I've talked about before or somebody else has covered them.
I keep picking up books and ten pages in I decide they are flat, stale and unprofitable and I put them in a bag for the library in the hope someone else will find them inflated, fresh and well monetized. The only wholly satisfying thing I've read recently is a brioche recipe.
From Mary Jo: I have a fondness for light-hearted British period mysteries, which is why I enjoy Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series, which is set in the early 1930s. The heroine, Lady Georgiana Rannoch–Georgie–is a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the daughter of a Scottish duke and a flamboyant actress. When the series starts, she's 33rd in line for the British throne. Sadly, she has royal blood and royal responsibilities, but not a royal income, so she tends to live hand to mouth. Luckily, Queen Mary has found that Georgie is good at discreet investigations of matters that affect the royal family, and when she sends Georgie on a mission, it often includes bed and board as well death and danger. <G> A running thread is Queen Mary's worry over the royal heir's infatuation with an American divorcee. (Wallis Warfield Simpson is a minor character who appears with some regularity and is always unpleasant.)
In the newest novel, MALICE AT THE PALACE, the queen asks Georgie to act as a companion and social mentor to Princess Marina, who was to marry Prince George, the fourth royal son, in a few weeks. This was a real marriage that did take place, but given the prince's lurid reputation, part of Georgie's job is to keep the charming Marina from learning too much about her fiancé's past. Then one of Prince Georgie's former girlfriends turns up dead outside Kensington Palace, where Georgie and Marina are staying…. This part is fictional, but the murder is woven well into the story and the times. I enjoyed the book, and it was improved by some growth in several of the major characters. I hope the series continues all the way through 1936, when the newly crowned King Edward VII abdicates his throne to marry his American divorcee!
Jo Beverley says: I've been dipping into Beauty and Chivalry: The Duchess of Richmond's Ball by Lisa Evesleigh. The ball, of course, took place on the eve of Waterloo, and by use of first hand accounts and some key minor participants, Evesleigh casts new light on the event.
I'm behind on Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum's adventures, but I picked up Takedown Twenty from 2013 and enjoyed another visit to that crazy Jersey world.
And lastly there's me, Anne Gracie. First up was the latest in Mary Balogh's ONLY A KISS — the latest in her 'Survivors Club' series. A new Mary Balogh is unmissable in my view.
Next was Kristan Higgins, IF YOU ONLY KNEW. I really enjoy Kristan Higgins books — contemporary, warm-hearted small town romances. I've been slowly glomming her backlist as well.
Lastly, I read an old Marsha Canham that was free on Kindle — ACROSS A MOONLIT SEA — a classic pirate romance that I relished. Of course I bought the rest in the series. Don't you love it when out-of-print books become available again as e-books? I did the same when Joan Wolf republished all her books as e-books — what a glom that was!
So, over to you — what books have you read and enjoyed lately? Or are you like Joanna this month, finding it hard to find something that captures your interest?