Book Review: Entangle by Veronica Larsen

Cover_ebook_EntangleTitle: Entangle
Author: Veronica Larsen
Genre:  Romance (Adult, Contemporary)
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Happily ever after? It doesn’t exist.

I wore the big white dress and rode off with Prince Charming. Then Charming changed his mind.

These days, I don’t put my heart in anyone’s hands because I don’t even know where I’ve left it.

So when a ruggedly handsome, blue-eyed man stirs my desires awake for the first time in years, I tell myself it’s a one-time thing.

And now? I’m hooked. Nothing could prepare me for Leo. He weaves simple, deliberate movements into pure, gilded pleasure. Like a sensual alchemist.

I’m so blinded by lust I barely notice the gaping hole opening underneath me, the one that’s sure to swallow me down. Because every time I’ve dared to get close to someone, they’ve cracked me wide open.

Why should this time be any different?

In Entangle, we meet with Alexis Stone, a successful business woman running her own business who, unfortunately wasn’t as lucky in love as she’s been in business. After a messy divorce, she swears off love for a while, deciding she might as well spend the rest of her life on her own. Leo Conrad is one of her employees, very handsome, but unfortunately not quite lucky in love either, as he had his heart broken in the past, and is now being stalked by a crazy ex.

Alexis and Leo have an almost tangible attraction between them, and from one thing comes another, and they hook up. It starts off as casual sex for both of them, at least that’s how they intended it, but it doesn’t stay with that. Instead of going away, the attraction between them only grows, and they start becoming almost addicted to one another.

The romance was steamy, and for the first part of the book, very enjoyable to read about. Then the drama got added in, and I enjoyed reading about how both characters dealt with it in ways that were consistent with their personality: Leo going all alpha male, and Alexis falling into her old insecurities. It was like they went right back to the start, and then had to work to find each other again. It was a good move, showing that love isn’t always easy, and sometimes you have to struggle through things to get there.

Both characters were engaging, but Alexis was my favorite of the two of them. The secondary characters were all right too. The writing worked, and the story was entertaining.

Book Review: Chasing The Witch (Boston Witches #2) by Jessica Gibson Chasing The Witch (Boston Witches #2)
Author: Jessica Gibson
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

After the events of Mark of the Witch, Jilly at last begins to breathe easier though her powers are still growing. But can she harness them in time to confront a new chain of events that threatens to change everything?

Caroline has finally accepted her life as a witch, but when a stranger comes into her life she’s forced to question her family loyalty.

The sisters are thrown together to protect a young girl from the enemy determined to hunt her down. Can they save her — and themselves?

I reviewed Mark of the Witch, the first book in the Boston Witches series last week. While I enjoyed Mark of the Witch, I must admit Chasing The Witch left me feeling much more impressed. The book has a solid storyline, intriguing characters who are well-developed, and an authentic voice. My only two concerns were that I felt transitions between one scene and the other could’ve been more fluent, and that the characters could’ve used a bit more depth. I’m still not that fond of Jilly. I can’t really explain why, but Caroline scores higher in my book. She has more depth and personality than Jilly, if you ask me.

The story takes off about four months after what happened in Mark of the Witch. Jilly is still very much in love with William, and they’re even planning on getting married. We see a lot more of Caroline than we did in the previous book, which in my opinion, is a good thing. Jilly is a goody-two-shoes character, the forever-hero who can’t do anything wrong, and if she does end up doing something wrong, it’s for the greater good or something. While I get these type of characters play an important role, I don’t like them all that much. I prefer characters like Caroline, who are flawed, who don’t always make the right decisions, who make mistakes and actually owe up to them. I think that’s why I like Caroline so much more: for all her flaws, it makes her all the more real to me, less like a character in a book, more like a real person. Caroline’s actions aren’t always examples of best of judgement, and I’m pretty sure some people will end up hating or strongly disliking her, but what can I say? I’m a fan of sympathetic ‘bad’ people, and Caroline is one of those.

The same scenario goes for William and Patrick. Patrick is William’s ‘evil’ brother, who isn’t all that evil afterall. He was painted as the villain in the first book and at the beginning of this one, but thanks to Caroline, we figure out he may have some redeeming qualities after all. Of course this causes another quarrel between the two sisters, and I wanted to punch Jilly for not even giving Caroline a chance to explain everything properly. Anyway, this time around, the villain comes in the form of ancient vampire Sabine and the person she’s working for, who has his eyes set on both sisters.

Mark of the Witch stayed pretty loyal to the general stereotypes about witches, like we see in Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and other TV series. Chasing The Witch distanced itself from what is known, and added uncommon myths and rules, making this book more and more unique, and of course, a lot more interesting to read. The characters were better developed as well. I liked how Caroline and Jilly’s voice differed so much that even from dialogue alone you could find out who was doing the talking. As the story develops, the characters matured as well, coming to terms with who they’re meant to be (especially Caroline, who struggled with being a witch in the first book). The plot reached a higher level as well, making more subplots, introducing more themes, and straightening the bad for a giant climax in the third book.

It’s not usually the case that a second book beats the first. People often refer to sequels in trilogies as ‘filler books’. I doubt anyone could say that about Chasing The Witch. It’s so strong, the plot so decent, that it would be more suitable to say Mark of the Witch was a prologue leading up to this book. I’m giving it a four-star rating and I recommend anyone who likes paranormal romance gives it a shot. I for one am looking forward to the third book in the series.

Book Review: Evangeline by Gwen Williams

17436884Title: Evangeline
Author: Gwen Williams
Genre: Adult Romance, Retold Fairytale, Gothic Romance
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy was provided by Red Sage Publishing.

Paul Rumsfeld, a lonely, rich, widower, seeks Evangeline’s hand in marriage. He is her first real marital prospect, as the entire village considers her damaged goods. Rumors abound about the way Evangeline and her sister Rose Red, serviced the Black Bear who resided at their hearth during one particularly hard, bitter winter. Evangeline did no such thing, but no man pays her court. She accepts Paul’s offer to marry him, while trying to ignore the vile gossipmongers’ talk in the village that Paul’s last four wives died under bizarre-and troubling-circumstances. Is Paul a Bluebeard, or is he an innocent man? Evangeline trusts her husband implicitly, but the rumors are hard to ignore.

They marry and she travels with him to his marvelous villa on the sea. Once there, she is introduced to the household servants, including the grim and reproving Mathilda. Mathilda is a formidable opponent, and it takes all of Evangeline’s guile and resources to outmaneuver the imperious maidservant. Evangeline soon finds herself with child, and with the support of the midwife, she begins to exert her will. Out with the restricting corsets and stays! Evangeline has no desire to confine her body to the dictates of fashion. She wants her baby to be healthy and strong, and the only way to do that is to ensure her own comfort. Mathilda is horrified, but cannot bend Evangeline to her will.

At the same time, Evangeline is attempting to breach the citadel that is her husband’s broken heart. Paul honestly cannot say how it has come to pass that he is the widower of four deceased wives, each one expiring under odd and distressing circumstances. As a result, he has locked down his heart to any further intimacy. He is half-convinced that Evangeline shall also die, and it would be unbearable if he were to allow her into his heart.

Who still remembers the story of Rose Red, Black Bear and her sister – Snow White, in the original fairytale? Well I don’t, at least not completely. I think I was born right after the Rose Red and Snow White fairytale-hype, and I only heard it once or twice and forgot most of the details. I mean, I’m probably born in the generation who thinks of Snow White as the girl who bit in the apple and fell asleep, not the girl who took a big black bear into her house and took care of said animal, who later turned out to be some cursed prince. Evangeline is actually a spin-off of the original fairytale, now featuring Evangeline in the role of Snow White, and focuses on the events that happened after Black Bear left the sisters’ cottage. No man in the entire village wants to marry Evangeline – but that’s alright, because she doesn’t really want the village boys’ interest either. She’d much rather get the attention of Mr. Rumsfeld, an older and lone widower who is wealthier than she could even imagine. However, the town folk know a lot of gossip about dear ol’ Mr. Rumsfeld: turns out he has been married three times, and every time his wife died under peculiar circumstances. Determined not to let old wives tales’ stand in her way of getting the man she desires, Evangeline persues Paul Rumsfeld anyway. But as soon as they are married, the young girl starts to notice strange things: not only about the man she loves, but also about the house they inhabit and the strange creatures that lurk in the darkness.

I love retold fairytales, or spin-offs of original fairytales. I adore gothic horror. But although I found Evangeline an enjoyable read, entertaining and with rather interesting characters; it didn’t really awe me the way I expected it to. Several reasons. First off, I figured out the mystery surrounding the suspicious deaths of Paul’s former wives right away, and to be brutally honest; Paul is quite the idiot for not thinking about this sooner. In fact, his unawareness of the people around him practically blindfolds him, and makes him unable to realise even what’s right in front of his nose. Evangeline isn’t all that much smarter; and I’m pretty sure any self-respecting heroine with some basic intelligence level could have figured out the malicious person in the picture a lot earlier. I think this novel would have been significantly more interesting had the author introduced more characters who could have been responsible for the other wives’ gruesome murders, thus atleast adding some more suspense to the story. It’s no fun reading a gothic horror novel when you know right away who’s responsible for all the bad stuff that keeps happening.

Apart from that, there were parts about the book that I really enjoyed. For instance, the scenery and the decor. An enormous villa by the sea, with gardens you can get lost in and marble statues that seem to move in the sunlight for no apparent reason. Enough to get anyone who loves gothic novels to start drooling. Add an evil presence in the house, murdered wives and a bunch of nightmares, and you have the perfect set up for an impressive gothic horror tale. However, the setting is there as are the characters and the basic plot – it just doesn’t get executed very well. There is no actual tension, there aren’t enough suspects for the murder schemes on Paul’s previous wives, and Paul basically has the IQ of a carrot. I would have liked this novel to go more in the style of Jane Eyre – where you actually get to wonder who or what is behind all the wicked things that keep happening – or more along the lines of Wuthering Heights.

The see-through plot put aside, Evangeline does make for a very enjoyable read. The main characters have very different, rich personalities with their own fears and anxieties. They could have been a bit brighter, and perhaps a bit more courageous – this definately counts for Paul – but maybe their lack of these traits makes them more human and less like the fairytale-heroes they originally were. Gwen Williams does an excellent job of describing the haunting, eerie atmosphere and the dread and terror of her characters. However, this novel didn’t scare me at all – not in the way Jane Eyre does when the girl with the same name is trapped in the Red Room. I don’t even know if it’s meant to be scary, but I would have liked if it managed to atleast make me feel a bit uncomfortable while reading. The author does get the romance point straight on though, and the growing relationship between Evangeline and Mr. Rumsfeld feels real, honest and very loving. All in all, Evangeline is a nice read and if you’re a fan of the genre, I would definately recommend it.