Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

March 24, 2017

Review | Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

Review | Dream Lake by Lisa KleypasDream Lake by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Friday Harbor, #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, August 2012
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
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They say that opposites attract. But what happens when one of them has been devastated by betrayal and the other is so damaged and jaded that his heart is made of stone? In New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas's Dream Lake, readers well enter the world of Friday Harbor, an enchanting town in the Pacific Northwest where things are not quite as they seem and where true love might just have a ghost of a chance. . . .
Alex Nolan is about as bitter and cynical as they come. One of three Nolan brothers who call Friday Harbor home, he's nothing like Sam or Mark. They actually believe in love; they think the risk of pain is worth the chance of happiness. But Alex battles his demons with the help of a whiskey bottle, and he lives in his own private hell. And then, a ghost shows up. Only Alex can see him. Has Alex finally crossed over the threshold to insanity?
Zoë Hoffman is as gentle and romantic as they come. When she meets the startlingly gorgeous Alex Nolan, all her instincts tell her to run. Even Alex tells her to run. But something in him calls to Zoë, and she forces him to take a look at his life with a clear eye and to open his mind to the possibility that love isn't for the foolish.
The ghost has been existing in the half-light of this world for decades. He doesn't know who he is, or why he is stuck in the Nolans' Victorian house. All he knows is that he loved a girl once. And Alex and Zoë hold the key to unlocking a mystery that keeps him trapped here.
Zoë and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark, and sometimes love can reach beyond time, space, and reason to take hold of hearts that yearn for it. . . .

Dream Lake’s Alex Nolan is having a bad day.

Or rather, more like a bad couple months.

Okay, a bad year. His wife has left him and is kicking him out the house to put it up for sale. His construction business is floundering because rumors of his drinking are spreading. He can’t get his mind off the beautiful chef at the B&B and, oh yeah: he’s being haunted.

On the surface, Dream Lake‘s romantic plotline is fairly predictable. Broken man finds loving woman to heal his wounds. I’m okay with that. In fact, I’ve even a fan of the cookie cutter plot because it allows so much room for creativity. And Kleypas has plenty of creativity, namely the ghost.

The ghost is a unique plot twist. He has no idea who is he, why he seems to be tied to the house (then Alex), or if he can move on to the next life. In short, he’s the perfect foil for grumpy, defensive Alex, who would probably throw a hammer at your head if you looked at him funny.

Yet the ghost isn’t enough to make Dream Lake memorable. His story alone? Fabulous. Intertwined with the fairly mundane and – dare I say it? – predictable romance between Alex and Zoe (aforementioned loving woman)? It’s not enough.

The thing about Zoe and Alex is that they weren’t exciting. There wasn’t a new tweak to the stereotypical characters, aside from Alex being haunted. Alex is mean to Zoe, Alex kisses Zoe, Zoe cooks for Alex, and here we are.

From Kleypas’ past books, I expected more. More zing, more banter, deeper characters. With that, Dream Lake could have been great. As is, it’s okay.

3 Stars

Posted March 24, 2017 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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September 22, 2016

Review | The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Review | The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani ChokshiThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen, #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, April 2016
Pages: 342
Format: Hardcover
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Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

The Star-Touched Queen blew me away.

Really. It is quite that simple.

See, I knew Chokshi and I were soul sisters when I read her biography in the back of the book (I showed up to lit class too many times in pajamas, to my mom’s chagrin). But it was her masterful retelling of Persephone and Hades that grabbed me.

Maya, a daughter of the Raja, is cursed. Her horoscope, predicting a disastrous marriage, has cast her out for life, whispers and hated looks following her wherever she goes. Despite it, she studies, learns, and tries her best to ignore the whispers. But when her father demands she give her hand in marriage to avoid war, her entire world changes.

I didn’t feel much for Maya until Amar, the mysterious Raja of Akaran, sweeps her away. Once he did, she and I alike were stunned, trying to take it all in. She and I became one, looking for the answer to the oddly-empty halls, the strange but kind scribe, and to where Amar, her now husband, disappears to at odd hours.

But it wasn’t just our shared curiosity that brought me around on Maya. It was her determination, as the story progresses, to right wrongs and injustices, and her intrinsic desire to save. Soon, The Star-Touched Queen turned from a romance to a heroic journey. (Side note: best sidekick ever.)

I fell in love with this world, built from a mythology that I knew little about but quickly entranced me. I loved the tapestry, the different perception of Hades, and the grand battle between love and evil. It was enchanting, engaging, and kept me up late at night, hoping I could finish it before my eyes slid shut.

The biggest win for me was Chokshi’s decision to make The Star-Touched Queen a standalone. Instead of leaving me on a cliffhanger (and there were plenty of opportunities to), she wrapped it up beautifully. It’s a book that I can’t wait to read again.

4 Stars

Posted September 22, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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