Genre: Romance

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Mar 11

Archer’s Voice Review

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Archer’s Voice ReviewArcher's Voice by Mia Sheridan
on January 25th 2014
Genres: Modern, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 345
Goodreads four-stars
five-flames

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.
Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.
THIS IS A STAND-ALONE NOVEL. The first three books in the series need not be read to enjoy this book. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Ok, let me make something quite clear: I don’t read romance. Especially modern romance.

However…I saw someone gushing about this book on Twitter and was kind of in a reading slump and thought, “Well, why not…everyone needs a little spicy love story now and then.”

Let me make something else clear: If it wasn’t for that gosh darn stupid cover, I would buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. But I’m a cover snob and I hate “sexy” covers with a passion. Not because I don’t appreciate a well-muscled male back as well as the next person…but I find them highly embarrassing to read in anything but the deepest privacy – which happens next to never, for me. So I bought the ebook (it was a total impulse buy and read).

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Oh, hi there. Yes, this book is VERY hung up on how sexy Archer (the male MC) is. Buuuuut…it’s totally ok.

Archer’s Voice is all about feelings. ALL THE FEELS. I did have a few minor quibbles with the plot and the writing style. For instance, somewhere in the middle of the book, the author repeatedly has Bree use the word “tummy” in descriptions of her sensual feelings and OMG JUST STOP. I actually saw another reviewer mention this before I started the book, and thought that surely they were just overreacting…no, they most absolutely were not. Note to self: when writing sex scenes that word is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. The plot is somewhat predictable…ok, a lot predictable. It’s a romance. It’s a New Adult (NA) romance, so it contains a fan-yourself-go-take-a-cold-shower (or…don’t) quantity of steamy sex. What was supposed to be a big plot twist was…not that shocking, and actually didn’t make a lot of sense but okay whatever. View Spoiler »

I went into this book skeptical of its ability to give me feels. Romances usually have me rolling my eyes and tossing them into the corner halfway through. I was intrigued by the premise of the male MC in this book though – no voice? I originally thought he must be deaf, but no.

Archer (male MC) and Bree (female MC) are both severely wounded, scarred people. Somewhat physically, but mostly emotionally. I could identify strongly with that. Bree’s wounds are more recent, and she had a mostly happy, healthy childhood to give her a strong foundation to stand on even despite her recent horrors. Archer on the other hand, has never had a normal life with a functional family and a devastating accident when he was 7 years old robbed him of both his parents and his voice. Raised by an eccentric, paranoid (but caring) uncle, he has been almost a complete recluse his entire life. Until Bree, fleeing her life in Ohio after some very traumatic events, stumbles into his little town and almost literally into him.

Trying to come up with the guy that MUST have been Mia Sheridan’s model for Archer…

Aside from his voice, physically Archer is perfection. His life of hard work (and apparently, good genes) have give him a god-like body. Bree is understandably smitten after just a few meetings. But he is an emotional cripple. Almost completely anthropophobic, but highly intelligent, he has spent his 23 years becoming self-sufficient and as well-educated as reading every book he can get his hands on can make him. I really didn’t think an author would be able to sell a recluse as a romantic interest, but Mia Sheridan does it very well. Maybe too well.

Maybe there was no right or wrong, no black or white, only a thousand shades of gray when it came to pain what we each held ourselves responsible for.

I was…well, I can’t say that I think Bree’s attraction to Archer is wrong. Or even unhealthy. But I think it could very quickly have gone that way, had he not been as willing to fight his fear of people and his limitations as he was. And as in love with him as she was, I’m not sure she would have had the backbone to leave an unhealthy situation. Because Bree is a healer. She is a caregiver. She wants to fix things. She wants to make Archer feel cared for and loved (besides the intense physical attraction). Multiple times though, she mentions that Archer reminds her of a little boy or a small child needing reassurance or love and…feeling like your significant other is a child in need of care is not really a good thing, in my opinion. As someone who was married to an extremely insecure person who eventually became vindictive and bitter in his insecurity, and knowing that I often felt a constant, exhausting need to reassure him of my love/respect/admiration/dedication – that is NOT a good thing. Now in this case, Archer was growing and learning and slowly coming out of his shell, and he was inherently sweet and gentle-hearted (qualities my ex most definitely lacked). He slowly accepts Bree’s love and compassion, but he also gives her his own and takes care of her. He melted my heart.

He looked like a little boy in that moment, and I realized how much he needed me to tell him that I wouldn’t go away like everyone else.

I ached along with Bree to ease some of the pain of all those years of mistreatment and neglect he had suffered. Even while alarm bells rang in my head about his intense emotional neediness…which, thankfully, his willingness to give as well as get and to push himself out of his comfort zone, more for Bree’s sake than his own, eliminated.

Complete honesty was the only thing I would give him. I would never purposefully hurt this beautiful, sensitive, wounded man more than he had already been hurt.

Archer’s biggest appeal is in the disconnect in his physical appearance and his attitude. He is, as Bree notes, a quick study and good at anything he has been taught or taught himself. He is completely unpretentious and unconscious of his physical appeal. If anything, he sees himself as broken, flawed, and undesirable due to his one “defect.”

Bree’s physical appearance is given less attention. She seems to be your typical girl-next-door type of cute, but Archer becomes completely smitten with her and she attracts attention from a few other guys as well – mostly due to her being new to the small town, it would seem. I was slightly worried by what seemed like her apparent willingness to just give up EVERYTHING to be with Archer, but she was already running from her past life and in need of someone to restore her faith in humanity. Archer, for all his issues, turned out to be that person. I loved how closely he paid attention to her likes and dislikes, even down to what chips out of a bag she liked (folded over tortilla chips, hehehe).

“Think of the strength of spirit you have to have to come through what he did and not be as mad as a hatter, to still retain a gentle heart.”

The strength of the human spirit is the real backbone of the story. The plot mostly centers on Bree and Archer overcoming their various personal demons, and for the most part doing it together. View Spoiler » There is a side plot going on with what happened to Bree and the death of her father, as well as the small-town drama around Archer, but they are truly secondary and stay mostly in the background. There is some tension created by Bree’s conversations and relationships with Travis, Archer’s cousin, town police officer and local heartbreaker. They never truly have a relationship but Travis’ ego becomes a sticking point and his childhood tormenting of Archer resumes, creating a good deal of conflict and pain on all sides.

This was a HEA I could believe in. Shocking, yes, for someone as jaded and anti-love-at-first-sight as myself. But Bree and Archer are not perfect, and their relationship is not perfect. They are so human, but so in love and SO RIGHT for each other. I would definitely recommend this book, and that’s not something I can say about many straight-up romance novels. I might even try another of Mia Sheridan’s NA novels.

four-stars

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Nov 27

Book Review: Boots and Bedlam

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 0 ★★★

I was really hoping for a book to get me both out of reading funk and into the holiday spirit, but sadly this was not the book for the job. Maybe I’m just not the demographic for it (I requested a review copy thinking it was about a woman in her 20s, and while Sam’s age is never given exactly I’m guessing she’s mid-40s), age-wise or lifestyle wise. I’m only rating it this high because, despite my multiple eye-roll moments, the writing style was actually decent and flowed well – which goes a long way in a book. Piss poor writing (or editing) will make me fling a book across the room long before a shaky plot. Also, this was the 3rd in a series, but it was definitely readable and completely understandable (maybe not relatable) even without having read the other two books. So props for that.

The Feels: I was mostly just annoyed. About the only characters I felt real empathy for was Sam’s teenage (19? 21? I was never completely sure) son and her 16 year old stepdaughter. No one else was horrible, I just…felt nothing. The storyline was SO unrealistic, at least from my point of view, that at one point I thought my eyeballs would fall out of socket from all the rolling. It definitely didn’t give me the warm fuzzy I was hoping for.

The Characters: See above.

The Plot: Way, WAY too churchy and preachy for me. In the first 20 pages I had been lectured about how alcohol is bad – BAD! – and drugs are next to hell (my words, not the author’s).

I understand alcoholism is a real issue for some people…but geez louise, does it really need to be a plot point? The actual plot is about Sam getting married (yay! I love happy endings) but since Sam was generally just annoying me with her helicopter mom syndrome…yeah. Take your white poinsettias and shove them. I feel like I’m too old to be THIS annoyed by that aspect of her character but…yeah. I am.

The Description/Worldbuilding: Not bad, but not stellar. Nothing to write home about.

The Rating: 3 stars overall. I actually used the breakdown of the rating functionality this time! Because I really felt like…this author could do better. As in she is capable of writing a better story. I didn’t LIKE this one, but it wasn’t her writing style that put me off, it was the subject matter and content.

Many thanks to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer for getting me a review e-book!

 

 

three-stars
Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
two-stars
Writing
four-stars
Overall: two-half-stars

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Nov 04

Book Review: Of Flame and Light

Book Reviews 3 ★★★½

This book was such a fun read and nice break from all the YA I’ve been buried in lately! I participated in the blog tour when it released a couple of weeks ago (you can read an excerpt in that post). I love YA, don’t get me wrong, but you know how adding salt to caramel just makes the flavor POP so much more? That’s what mixing in different genres does for my reading. The different “flavors” really enhance all the flavors. Anywho. Enough comparing books to ice cream and chocolate.

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Like this amazing cake from Chowhound (click for recipe)

Of Flame and Light is fast-paced, hilarious, and full of super-sexy men and women intent on screwing the living daylights out of each other. 4/5 FLAMES (not stars, FLAMES…there’s supposed to be flame icons somewhere but I can’t get them to work, haha…still figuring out the new website). I really think this is one of those books that, while you CAN read it as a stand-alone and enjoy it, I would definitely have understood more and enjoyed it more if I had been following along through the entire Weird Girls series. So while I was somewhat confused at points, there’s enough explanation to get a who’s-who and a general idea of the supernatural creatures and world. I definitely plan to start at the beginning and read through at some point. Actually vaguely considering obtaining the other 6 and binge-reading on a weekend…this was a terrific feel-good book and I could use some more.

The plot never stagnates and I was CERTAINLY never bored. This was the main part where I felt like I was missing things, as this book focused on the werewolves and witches and only briefly mentioned the vampires (which seem to have played a bigger part in previous books). Of course Taran’s strange limb and the new magic fusing with her old starts the story off, but it’s soon overtaken by the bigger, overarching problem of a dark, wicked power rising. I liked the conflict between the weres and the witches, but I wish I understood it a little better. I’m guessing the zombies were new to this series?

Taran is a hilarious narrator. Her descriptions of her attempts at “training” with the witches had me snickering as I read. Other than that, honestly…she was pretty bitchy. I wasn’t super fond of her and found her kind of hard to relate to…her strange powers, those I could imagine. But her perfect (except for the arm, which is basically a crazy prosthetic she can’t take off) body, her constant tight dresses and platform heels…THAT I didn’t get. Same goes for her sisters, who all seem to have perky boobs, tiny waists, flat stomachs…yadda yadda. Also, there are SO MANY strapping, hot werewolf men in this book…holy bejeezus, I felt like I was constantly fanning myself! Gemini, Koda, Aric, Bren…phew. She definitely has the sex appeal of werewolves on point. 😉 Of course now I want to know ALL the stories…anyway. I absolutely despised Vieve, the witch coven’s leader. I wanted to reach through the pages and stab her with a fork.

The world-building was good but I still got confused on some things. Like I said before, I’m pretty sure this is partially because I picked up this book partway through the series. Her descriptive powers certainly lit a fire in MY imagination. Did I already mention sexy werewolves? Oh, right, I did.

Issues I had: I was kind of bothered by the fact that – in my opinion – the whole conflict between Taran and Gemini could have been solved if they had JUST SAT DOWN AND TALKED. That’s all. I kept thinking there would be something bigger revealed…but no. Just one big miscommunication that they were too scared to talk about. Besides my annoyance with Taran’s personality, I felt like she really had NO IDEA how to handle her magic, she just happened to get lucky every time it worked for her. She also never really seemed to learn anything from her time with the witches. I find it seriously hard to believe that one person could be that lucky THAT many times.

Overall, 3.5/5 stars. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series! I just downloaded the first, Sealed with a Curse, onto my Nook. 🙂

Thank you so much to Cecy Robson for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

 

three-half-stars

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Oct 27

Book Review: The Architect of Song

Book Reviews 3 ★★★★

This book totally surprised me. I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, though I was hoping I would. So I was delighted when this was my initial reaction:

Yep. This was one giant dark truffle of deliciousness. I started it one day, and about two chapters in decided I wanted to just sit down and devour it all in one go, so I waited for a weekend day and did just that.

First of all, don’t go into this book expecting something it’s not. This is a gothic historical romance. Period. It doesn’t try to have the next greatest plot twist. In fact it has some of the traditional YA tropes (it’s a NA, btw) that usually drive me to distraction or leave me throwing the book across the room. However, popular plot devices are popular for a reason. They resonate with a large percentage of the human population on some intrinsic level. That doesn’t mean we don’t get tired of them, particularly if you read a lot. What seems new and exciting to someone who reads 2 books a year may seem bland and unoriginal to someone who reads 200. Authors CAN, however, come up with new twists on the tried and true tropes of literature and A.G. Howard has done just that. ANYWAY. Climbing off my soapbox now.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD…but nothing too horrible, I promise!

As soon as the book starts, we’re thrown into a very melancholy, VERY Victorian atmosphere. I almost put it down, honestly. I wasn’t in the mood for another book where the heroine simpers and flutters and nearly passes out when the hero gets within 6 inches of her. But I was intrigued…and let’s just say, while yes, the time period is Victorian, the romantic intensity is SO NOT.

Because this is my mental image of the main guy. With slightly longer hair.

Because this is my mental image of the main guy. With slightly longer hair.

There are a few scenes that left me literally fanning myself. Not just because, um, hot bearded guy, either. The history between Juliet and Hawk is just so sweet and it gives so much more intensity to every scene between the two of them. It’s amazing, and heartbreaking, sweet, and at the same time simply smouldering.

The characters in this book are amazing. I was attached to them ALL. I hated A.G. Howard about halfway through for making me care about them ALL, because I wanted to be able to choose. Yes, there is a love triangle in this book (that was the spoiler). Maybe I should have guessed that from the blurb, but since it said ghost…you know…how can you…well. All I can say is well done, well done indeed. I was several chapters in before I was sure that was what was happening, and by that point I was so intrigued and invested that I couldn’t stop reading!

A.G. Howard writes IN COLOR. I swear I could see the colors, the fabrics, the clothes she described just spilling out of the pages. It was amazing. This is the first of her books I’ve read, so I’m not sure if she just always writes that way or if it was a feature of this particular book, but I loved it. I’m not a “clothes person,” but damn if I didn’t want to reach out and touch some of the dresses Juliet was wearing.

The plot is…well, gothic. Semi-tragic. There were SO MANY layers and so many half-truths that about 3/4 of the way through I just wanted to SCREAM because I was just as confused as poor Juliet, whom everyone seems to think needs “protecting” in the form of an elaborately built scheme to keep her “safe.” Geez Louise, people. Our young heroine is deaf, yes, but copes remarkably well and is no shrinking violet, even if she sometimes acts the part. There’s the love triangle. At first I was skeptical, and then I was sympathetic, and then I was panicked, because these two guys…well, they get ALL the hearts. AT FIRST. Then one starts to be controlling, manipulative, and demanding and my little gun-shy heart ran away screaming…but I still felt so sorry for him and wanted him to have a happy ending.

Now, the problems. First, as soon as a guy comes into her life, Juliet loses all focus on everything else, even when at first she had a relatively big goal regarding her estate. She just tosses it all aside for TWU RUV.

I’m sure we’ve all been there, but I hate it when that’s one of the first things to occur in a book. Especially in cases like this, where, as a true Victorian female, Juliet has been sheltered and taught that women shouldn’t have sexual desires like men, and then she just falls into the arms of the first man that waltzes across her path (it takes 149 pages). Le sigh. But ok, it’s a romance. Forgiven…ish.

Then there are a few times when the dialogue sounds like it was supposed to be description. Because honestly, who describes their hair color as “My hair is the warm glimmer of golden coins beneath the sun,” instead of just “My hair is blonde (golden, yellow, fill-in-the-blank-with-one-word)?” Ugh. It was just overkill for me…the flowery descriptions were great, but in dialogue it was just a bit too much.

My hat is off to A.G. Howard for not giving her book the traditional happily-ever-after ending. Oh, there’s plenty to be happy about, don’t get me wrong! But it’s definitely bittersweet, and by being so it’s much more realistic and makes me even more excited for the next one!

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. I love Juliet and *bleep*. They’re giant dark chocolate truffles and I want to eat them.

four-stars

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