Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb

Synopsis: Calder is a Fetch, a death escort, the first of his kind to step from Heaven back to Earth.The first to fall in love with a mortal girl. But when he climbs backwards out of that Death Scene, into the chaos of the Russian Revolution, he tears a wound in the ghost realm, where the spirits begin a revolution of their own.

My Thoughts: this is my first book that talks about the afterlife. When a person dies, a death escort appears and he or she has the duty to accompany the dead through the Aisle of the Unearthing, divided in five parts: the Theatre, the Feast, the Gallery, the Garden and the Cell. After all this, you’ll reach the Great River, where a boat and its Captain will be waiting to take you to Heaven. Calder is a death escort, someone responsible for the dead, but he never felt like he belonged there. He thought he was extremely lonely and craved for a friend, but he knew that he couldn’t break his Vows as a Fetch nor disappoint his Captain. But when one of his duties gives him the chance to go back to Earth, in the middle of the Russian Revolution, to the woman that he thinks is the one supposed to be his Star Fetch – his apprentice, a living person able to see and hear him – will he still be faithful to his Vows?

                As I said, this is my first afterlife novel and I must say I really liked it! And for the first time in my shelf, the protagonist is a male. Usually I get books that woman are the leading figures, so it was different to see. What I liked about it is the detailed description of the surroundings: the Selo Palace of the tsar’s family, the late 10’s California, Russia and England, everything is so detailed that it seems that the author actually lived there (though it’s impossible)! Another thing that I really enjoyed is the way that death is shown: not as a morbid thing – even though it’s sad – but as a passage to something much better. Each death sees its Aisle and Fetch differently: it can be a blond angel with silver wings in a corridor made of pure diamonds and rubies, or a warrior in a corridor full of Japanese paintings. Time is different too: It can be 1024 for years or 1570 in an hour.

                When Calder realizes that maybe the woman that he thought was meant to him actually wasn’t, how is he going to return to his Aisle? He has to take care of Anastasia and Alexis, remaining children of the tsar, and escort them to Heaven. Also, he has to stop the owner of Calder’s current body – which is Rasputin – before he starts a revolution inside the Land of Lost Soul – a place where all the souls that ran away from their escorts are – and before all those souls attack the Land of the Living. The scale is unbalanced and Calder has to put it back to its place.

                The only thing that lacked for me was the romance. It’s very subtle and you can almost miss it if you don’t read it carefully. Ana and Calder have two year difference, but that doesn’t really interfere in the scenes, but there is no kiss through the WHOLE book, except in the last chapter. I kept hoping for a kiss scene, but none came, and the only one was so quick that I couldn’t really see it!! It kind of reminds me of a 1910’s novel that I read when I was a teenager: its romance is very delicate and gentle, something that nowadays it’s hard to find, especially after the release of Fifty Shades of Grey – not saying that I don’t like the reading, I’m actually planning to read it, eventually.

                Last is the cover, which I don’t have a lot to talk about: the couple in the front is Calder and Ana, and the key represents the Fetch Key, that is able to open the door to the Aisle of the Unearthing. The Key is the thing that connects the whole book: when Calder gives the Key to Alexis and he passes it to Ana, she gives it to a soldier that was taking care of them in their prison, and to whom she had a crush. Now he is in CA, and without the Key, no one can go back to the Aisle. So Calder and the teens go on a journey around the globe in order to get it, but what if it wasn’t with the soldier? What if he sold it or lost it?

                That, my readers (if I have any), are for you to figure it out.


Monday, January 7, 2013

What Price Love? by Stephanie Laurens

Synopsis: There is nothing more fascinating than a darkly handsome rake, especially one as controlled and elusive as Dillon Caxton, protege of Demon Cynster. Despite his dangerous air, Dillon is a man of sterling reputation, but it wasn't always so. Years ago, an illicit scheme turned into a nefarious swindle, and only the help of his cousin, Felicity, and her husband, Demon, saved Dillon from ruin. Now impeccably honest, he guards his hard-won reputation and is the Keeper of the Register of all racing horses in England. His standing and aloofness make Dillon undeniably desirable to young ladies, but despite all the lures thrown his way, he remains uninterested -- his attention unfixed.

                 Until "Miss Priscilla Dalling" erupts into his life. A stunning beauty, she affects Dillon as no other ever has, but what fascinates him even more is that this tempting young lady is clearly desperate, and equally clearly lying about wanting to see the Register to fulfill the whim of an eccentric aunt.

                 Lady Priscilla Dalloway will do anything to see what's in the Register -- even lie! Her twin brother, Russell, who had fought with their father and left the family home to work with the finest racehorses, has disappeared. Pris knows that clues to his whereabouts can be found in the tome Dillon Caxton refuses to let her see.

                 She unleashes her feminine wiles on Dillon -- to no avail. But Dillon is now determined to learn the truth behind her quest. Exploiting the powerful attraction that flares between them, he succeeds in convincing Pris to tell him all, to trust him with her twin's life. Together, Dillon and Pris locate Rus, only to discover that his life is being threatened by the perpetrators of a massive betting swindle.

                 The time is ripe for Dillon to repay old debts by helping another as he himself was helped. Assisted by Demon, Felicity, and Barnaby Adair, Dillon and Pris embark on a journey riddled with danger -- and undeniable passion -- as they seek to overturn the swindle and expose Rus's deadly enemies. And along the way they discover the answer to that age-old question: What price love?

My thoughts: this is a romance that I usually call “pastime book”. When you don’t have anything better to do and want to enjoy an adorable evening reading a romance, that’s the kind of book that I usually pick to read. However, I’m starting to see an established pattern: a beautiful couple that hates each other in the beginning, but falls in love at first sight and just realizes that by the end of the reading. The only thing that really impressed me was that this time, the man realizes first. Usually is the girl the first to discover that is in love.

                After Jane Austen came up with the base for historical romance in Pride and Prejudice, it seems that all the other novelists thought that they should follow the same road, and thus the romances lose its gentleness and became something not original. There isn’t a lot differences, except for the change of scenario and this was the first time that the romance spun around horses and jockeys. I really liked the commitment of the author in making the scenes related to the races as truthful as possible, even though I couldn’t understand much about the details since I never participated in a race like that, but it was very instructive.

                Caxton and Priscilla made a cute couple, but even before they REALLY became a couple, I sensed that Dillon had a very possessive felling towards Pris. It only became a sweet sensation, like one of caring and protection, after 2/3 of the reading. I consider the quantity and quality of the romance according to the quantity of words and gestures that I mark during the reading and this one didn’t have many.

                What I liked was the couple and their friends. Prue was a little joy: the oldest daughter of Demon and Flick Cynster, Prudence was quite a mind and is very straightforward. She reminded me of Georgia from Rescued, so I really had fun when she appeared (unfortunately, she didn’t have that many scenes). Dillon is H-A-N-D-S-O-M-E. Another thing that was kind of funny was the name of the male members of the Cynsters: Demon, Devil, Gabriel, Vane. Some were from hell and others from heaven! (O.K. I stopped already)

                Last, but not least, is the cover. It gives the air of mystery, and the girl of the cover, obviously represents Pris. The fan in front of her suggest that she is hiding something (that I won’t tell what) from the reader, and to find out, of course, you have to read it. And the red color symbolizing love and passion.

 and a half