Sunday, January 13, 2013

ARC Review: Eire's Captive Moon by Sandi Layne

Éire's Captive Moon (Éire's Viking, #1)From the blurb:

Éire’s Captive Moon, the first book of the Éire’s Viking Trilogy, brings you to the unsettled era of the early Viking raids along the coast of Éire – today’s Ireland. A wounded refugee from the violent Viking raids on Éire’s coast is healed so well by Charis of Ragor that Agnarr captures the moon-pale woman for his own and takes her home to Nordweg to be his slave. Also captured is Cowan, a warrior gifted with languages. He is drawn to the healer of Ragor and finds himself helpless before her. In more ways than one! Through the winter, Charis plans a fitting vengeance upon her captor for the men he killed. She also prepares to return to Éire and the children she left behind. But will her changing feelings interfere with these plans? When two men vie for her heart, will she give way before either – or both? 

My rating:

This book is a re-edit of the previously published novel Captive Irish Moon. When the new novel was offered as an ARC, I jumped at the chance.

Eire's Captive Moon tells the story of Charis, a healer, and her struggles after being captured by marauding Vikings and taken by Agnarr as his leman/slave.

The book starts out with Charis' father running from someone and having to abandon her near an Irish village for her safety. Charis grows up and learns the healing craft, though this part is skipped over and insinuated.

When we meet her again, she's married to Devin and Devlin, twin warriors, and living in a small village near a monastery. From the start, it's clear that the author has done her homework, as life in the 9th century in Ireland is described in accurate detail, including the distrust of a monk who calls her a witch.

When Vikings land on the shores to invade the monastery and steal its riches, they also happen upon Charis' village. The ensuing fight is well described, and Charis is forced to leave with the Vikings. One of her captors, Agnarr, is impressed with her healing skills and decides to keep her for himself. Charis vows revenge since he's also the one who has killed both of her husbands. She knows she has to bide her time but killing Agnarr is never far from her mind.

Sandi Layne describes in rich detail the life and customs of the people of Nordweg (Norway); her beautiful prose only serves to draw the reader more into the story.

Her cast of characters is captivating: Charis with her moonbeam hair, Cowan the Kingson, who is also taken as a slave, Agnarr, who despite his pillaging and raping is likable and relatable, and Tuirgeis with his shrewd thoughts and observations. They become alive in the pages of this book and it is to the author's credit that she's able to create such a rich cast. Even the not so likable characters, such as Magda and her slave, enrich the plot immensely.

And throughout, the author returns to specific themes: perseverance, forgiveness and determination. I was on occasion torn between admiring Charis' for her unforgiving stance and wanting to rattle her for being so single-minded that she didn't see the forest for the trees.

And I want to commend the author for the extensive research that went into this book, not only the historical facts but also herbology, mythology and excellent character development.

If you like historically sound novels with a little romance, this book is for you. Give it a try.

I received a free ARC directly from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return.

Goodreads Book Page
Goodreads Author Page

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time,

Thursday, January 3, 2013

ARC Review: Aris Returns by Devin Morgan

Aris Returns: A Vampire Love Story (Infinity Diaries Trilogy, #1)
From the blurb:

Psychologist Sarah Hagan thought she had her life under control. She pulled herself together after a painful (and unexpected) divorce. She’s currently dating a successful but neglectful attorney—a relationship that is adequate, if not totally satisfying. She has a few good friends, lives in a beautiful condo in the heart of Chicago, and loves her work as a therapist. From the outside, it looks like her life is almost perfect. it only takes one patient -- a handsome younger man named Carlos who is on parole for car theft -- to put her well-ordered life into a tailspin. As she regresses him with hypnotherapy, she discovers an unusual presence. Is this some elaborate alter ego that Carlos has created or is something much stranger going on?
My rating:

When I first read the blurb, I was intrigued by the premise and requested the galley. It sounded like a fresh idea, and I couldn't wait to get started on the book.

After reading the book, I'm no longer intrigued, but rather disappointed. While the premise sounds great, the execution leaves much to be desired.

We are first introduced to Sarah Hagan, a 37 year old divorced psycho-analyst who specializes in past life regression therapy. We are told about her daily life in details ad nauseam, to the point where I was asking myself who edited this book, and why all these minuscule details were allowed to remain. Not only is everything described to the smallest piece of information, the writing is also rather juvenile, with short, choppy sentences. Not a great start.

The author then introduces Colleen, a parole officer and one of Sarah's best friends. She comes to Sarah with a request to help one of her parolee's, Carlos Havarro, to stay clean and crime-free by working with him through past life regression therapy. Carlos is a young twenty-something who's had a hard childhood and got into criminal activities as a teenager trying to escape his slap-happy father. He's portrayed as somewhat assertive, trying to get Sarah to meet with him outside of their session, with an attitude that could be described as cocky on occasion, but then is also giving a somewhat sensible side, with trying to get away from the gang and realizing that he's been giving another chance. As a romantic interest, I found him too young and unsuited for Sarah.

As Sarah begins to work with Carlos and hypnotizes him, a new character, Aris, emerges. Aris is a vampire, who was first turned when he was a soldier with Alexander the Great's army. Staked by Alexander himself, he languished for nearly 500 years before being 'awoken' again. With each new therapy session, Aris reveals more of his journey and how he came to England during the time of Henry VIII, he of the six wives. The author seems to have done her research into that time period very well, and incorporates some of the historical details accurately while still spinning them to fit Aris' involvement.

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