“And I Darken” by Kiersten White

And I Darken | The Conqueror’s Saga #1 | ISBN 9780552573740 | Corgi, 2016 | 1 out of 5 Stars | DNF (skim-read the last 100 pages)

“No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way. Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.” (more…)

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“The Quietness” by Allison Rattle

The Quietness | Stand-Alone | ISBN 9781471401015 | Hot Key Books, 2013 | 2.5 out of 5 Points

“When fifteen-year-old Queenie escapes from the squalid slums of nineteenth-century London, she has no idea about the dangers of the dark world she is about to become embroiled in. Initially thrilled at being taken on as a maid for the seemingly respectable Waters sisters, Queenie comes to realise that something is very wrong with the dozens of strangely silent babies being ‘adopted’ into the household.

Meanwhile, lonely and unloved sixteen-year-old Ellen is delighted when her handsome and charming young cousin Jacob is sent to live with her family. She thinks she has finally found a man to fall in love with and rely on, but when Jacob cruelly betrays her she finds herself once again at the mercy of her cold-hearted father. Soon the girls’ lives become irrevocably entwined in this tension-filled drama. THE QUIETNESS is a novel of friendship and trust in the darkest of settings.”  (more…)

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“The Beautiful & the Cursed” by Page Morgan

The Beautiful and the Cursed | The Dispossessed #1 | ISBN 9780385743112 | Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013 | 1 out of 5 Points

“After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris. In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures. (more…)

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“True Pretenses” by Rose Lerner

True Pretenses | Lively St. Lemeston #2 | ASIN B00M3XTPXK | Samhain Publishing, 2015 | 5 out of 5 Points

“Never steal a heart unless you can afford to lose your own. Through sheer force of will, Ash Cohen raised himself and his younger brother from the London slums to become the best of confidence men. He’s heartbroken to learn Rafe wants out of the life, but determined to grant his brother his wish. It seems simple: find a lonely, wealthy woman. If he can get her to fall in love with Rafe, his brother will be set. There’s just one problem—Ash can’t take his eyes off her. (more…)

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“Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters

Crocodile on the Sandbank | Amelia Peabody #1 | ISBN 9780445406513 | Mysterious Press, 2010 (first published 1975) | 5 out of 5 Points

“Set in 1884, this is the first installment in what has become a beloved bestselling series. At thirty-two, strong-willed Amelia Peabody, a self-proclaimed spinster, decides to use her ample inheritance to indulge her passion, Egyptology. On her way to Egypt, Amelia encounters a young woman named Evelyn Barton-Forbes. The two become fast friends and travel on together, encountering mysteries, missing mummies, and Radcliffe Emerson, a dashing and opinionated archaeologist who doesn’t need a woman’s help — or so he thinks.” (more…)

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“The Duchess War” By Courtney Milan

The Duchess War | Brothers Sinister #1 | ISBN 9781937248093 | Courtney Milan, 2012 | 3.5 out of 5 Points

“Sometimes love is an accident. This time, it’s a strategy. Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly–so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don’t get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention. But that is precisely what she gets. (more…)

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“Nefertiti’s Heart” by A.W. Exley

Nefertiti’s Heart | Artifact Hunters #1 | ASIN B0139OZJYK  | A.W. Exley, 2015 | 2 out of 5 Points

“1861. Cara has a simple mission in London – finalise her father’s estate and sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when a killer stalks the nobility, searching for an ancient Egyptian relic rumoured to hold the key to immortality.

Nathaniel Trent, known as the villainous viscount, is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on both Cara and the priceless artifacts. His icy exterior and fiery touch stirs Cara’s demons, or could he lay them to rest? Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem known as Nefertiti’s Heart. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she sacrifices her own heart and life.” (more…)

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“The Botticelli Secret” by Marina Fiorato

The Botticelli Secret | Stand-Alone | ISBN 9781848547988 | Hodder Paperbacks, 2012 | 1.5 out of 5 Points

“When part-time model and full-time prostitute Luciana Vetra is asked by one of her most exalted clients to pose for a painter friend, she doesn’t mind serving as the model for the central figure of Flora in Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece “Primavera.” But when the artist dismisses her without payment, Luciana impulsively steals an unfinished version of the painting–only to find that somone is ready to kill her to get it back.

What could possibly be so valuable about the picture? As friends and clients are slaughtered around her, Luciana turns to the one man who has never desired her beauty, novice librarian Brother Guido. Fleeing Florence together, Luciana and Guido race through the nine cities of Renaissance Italy, pursued by ruthless foes who are determined to keep them from decoding the painting’s secrets.” (more…)

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