What Happens At Christmas (Millworth Manor, #1) by Victoria Alexander

Series:
Narrator: Elizabeth Wiley
What Happens At Christmas Book Cover What Happens At Christmas
Millworth Manor #1
Victoria Alexander
Historical Romance, Victorian Romance
Kensington Books
October 16, 2012
audiobook
352

You are cordially invited to Christmas at Millworth Manor. . .

Camille, Lady Lydingham, requests the pleasure of your company at a festive house party, as she endeavors to coax a marriage proposal from Prince Nikolai Pruzinsky of Greater Avalonia.

The hostess's relatives will be in attendance--in this case, a troupe of actors hired to impersonate a proper English family in order to fool the Prince.

Gate-crashing, distractingly handsome first loves like Grayson Elliott are most unwelcome.

Games will be played.

Motives will be revealed.

Mayhem may ensue.

And hearts will be won--and lost--in the most romantic, magical season of all.

Please RSVP!

This was a very amusing Christmas story. It was just what I needed like a hot cup of chocolate on a cold winter night.

Camille, Lady Lydingham, wanted the fairy tale life so when she met a prince who was travelling. Camille put a plan into motion designed to charm Prince Nikolai Pruzinksy of Greater Avalonia into proposing to her and making her a princess.

The problem was that she didn’t feel that her family was the “right sort” to endear the prince to her, as they were quite eccentric. So Camille decided to hire a troupe of actors to portray a proper and respectable English family. While Camille and her married twin sister Beryl, Lady Dunwell, put their scheme into motion, Camille’s first love Grayson Elliot came by.

Grayson had decided that Camille was the one that got a way and he came to woo her back. Unfortunately he walks into this grand spectacle of a Christmas holiday with Camille’s faux family. Both Prince Nikolas and Grayson wanted to prove they were the right suitor. Her twin sister just wants her to be happy. The rest is just comedic genius.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this story so much but it was funny. Camille was very likable even though she was a bit of a dreamer. I give her a A for the trying in earnest to pull of a ruse of this magnitude. It required nerves of steel and sheer willpower to remain committed when parts of her story were falling part. Camille and her sister improvised so well, I almost expected them to decide to go into the theater afterwards.

I liked the drama because it felt like watching a live play with the blunders, bloopers and improvisation. The romance was also sweet and heart felt. I was pleased with how the love story was resolved. The audiobook narrator did an awesome job with various voices. I was never bored in this story. If you want an entertaining Christmas story and a second chance romance, I highly recommend this one.

Ezi

Mistress of Rome (The Empress of Rome #1) by Kate Quinn

Mistress of Rome  (The Empress of Rome #1) by Kate QuinnSeries: The Empress of Rome #1
on 2011-04-05
Pages: 400
AmazonNarrator: Elizabeth Wiley
A.D. 69. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything-especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister Marcella is more aloof, content to witness history rather than make it. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside-down, both women must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor...and one Empress.
three-stars

I saw the description blurb—Spartacus for girls. Of course I had to pick it up as I just loved the series Spartacus Blood & Sands. This book read like a mish mash of Spartacus, Rome and the Gladiator. The story itself was interesting, but the narrator was unsuccessful in conveying the tone of the period. Given the entitlement, revelry and brutality of the period, the actual writing didn’t appear authentic to me. Words like “giggle” just don’t seem appropriate for the time period. The actual plot of the story was enjoyable, but the modern day language made this historical fiction diminished the quality of the work.
The main character Thea, reminded me of Naevia from Spartacus, with a touch of Kore. The character Arius, reminded me of Crixus, with a touch of Spartacus. They were victims of the republic and one couldn’t help but root for them to gain their freedom. Lepida Pollia, Thea’s owner was a good mix of Illythia and Lucretia, and thus I couldn’t wait for her to get her comeuppance.

The stories featuring the gladiators battles were not as brutal as I was expecting, nor where they memorable. The behind machinations for power and prestige, plus vengeance for wrong doing, gave this book the flavor associated with the Roman Empire drama. I love that time period because good didn’t triumph often. One had to be resourceful and adaptable, and make the proper alliances to elevate their position. Very dramatic stuff if you like characters with depth.
I think Senator Marcus was the unsung hero in this book and he was my favorite character. He was advanced for his time and he lost a lot for the love of his country. I enjoyed his journey the most.
I would recommend this book for someone who wants a lighter version of Spartacus and didn’t care for the “Spartacus Speak” as I call it. This book would make a good TV mini-series.


**Special Thanks to Tantor Media for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review

Bound (Eternal Guardians, #6) by Elisabeth Naughton

Bound (Eternal Guardians, #6) by Elisabeth NaughtonSeries: Eternal Guardians #6
on 2013
Pages: 269
AmazonB&NNarrator: Elizabeth Wiley
TITUS—To most his gift seems like a blessing, but for him it's a curse the other Eternal Guardians—those who protect the mortal realm from threats of the Underworld—seek to exploit. One he would gladly trade for the chance to be free…Obsessed. Her touch is like a drug. From the moment he met her, Titus knew she was different. Even dangerous. Yet though his guardian brethren are convinced Natasa is working for Hades, Titus can't stop thinking about her. Can't stop fantasizing about her. Can't stop craving the one thing he knows could lead to the downfall of his world.Possessed. Faced with stopping Natasa or joining in her quest, Titus falls to temptation and is thrust into a world of lust, deception, and deadly treachery designed by the gods. Her touch—only hers—frees him from his bonds, but desire may just condemn him. Because before the end he'll have to decide which is more important: duty and honor to those he took an oath to defend, or a woman who could very well be the biggest curse to them all.
three-half-stars

I don’t know about this one. While I liked the MCs, my main issue is with the actual world. The lack of true brotherhood or real friendship between the so-called heroes–the Argonauts. I don’t think any of them like each other. They certainly don’t know anything about each other. I don’t get it.

This installment was Titus and Natasa’s journey. We met them towards the end of the last book and I felt their chemistry immediately. They are both likable characters, so I was intrigued as they tried to decipher the other’s secrets.

We got to learn that Titus, from Odysseus’s descendant, was gifted with the power to read thoughts. That gift was enhanced when he used it to trick a witch into his bed. Now when he touches people he can hear their thoughts and feel all their emotions as well. So it is quite the curse now.

Natasa is a descendant of Poseidon and bears a gift within herself from daddy dearest that makes her a prize to the Olympians. So now, she is hunted by both the Titans and the Olympians.

In a secondary plot, Isadora is pregnant but still caught between her husband Demetrius and Nick, who both claim soul bonds with her. I remember Nick being Demetrius brother, but I don’t see why he has a bond if he isn’t a twin. Three was definitely a crowd in this relationship and Nick was getting of my nerves. I think I could enjoy this series more if there was a kinship, friendship or more warmth when the brotherhood dealt each other. There is no team, just a bunch of individuals doing their own thing. Can’t they all just get along?

Enraptured (Eternal Guardians #4) by Elisabeth Naughton

Enraptured (Eternal Guardians #4) by Elisabeth NaughtonSeries: Eternal Guardians #4
on April 1st, 2012
Pages: 415 pages
AmazonNarrator: Elizabeth Wiley
Orpheus--To most he's an enigma, a devil-may-care rogue who does whatever he pleases whenever he wants. Now this loose cannon is part of the Eternal Guardians--elite warriors assigned to protect the human realm--whether he likes it or not.

Orpheus has just one goal: to rescue his brother from the Underworld. He's not expecting a woman to get in the way. Especially not a Siren as gorgeous as Skyla. He has no idea she's an assassin sent by Zeus to seduce, entrap, and ultimately destroy him.

Yet Skyla herself might have the most to lose. There's a reason Orpheus feels so familiar to her, a reason her body seems to crave him. Perhaps he's not the man everyone thinks... The truth could reveal a deadly secret as old as the Eternal Guardians themselves.
four-stars

Seriously, this series is so full of holes it could be swiss cheese…but something keeps me going on. I don’t understand but I am being entertained or I wouldn’t be thinking so hard about stuff.

Orpheus has been the unknown since book 1 and I just had to find out his story. In the last book, we saw him use the orb to save his little brother Gryphon, but that wizard stole Gryphon’s body, trapping Gryphon’s soul in the underworld.

Orpheus is so wrecked with guilt that he decides he will go there and rescue his brother. Of course the gods (Zeus, Hera, Hades, even Atlanta) have their own plans for the brothers. Zeus sends on of Hera’s sirens, Skylar, to seduce, kill and get the orb from Orpheus. And what seemed like a game of seduction, turned into something more. In addition, Orpheus and Skylar experience deja vu, like they have danced to this tune before, but surely they couldn’t have. Either way, they are inexplicably drawn to each other, but Skylar is sent to be an assassin. Can she really go through with her mission?

I like this series but these eternal guardians are no different from humans. They seem weak to me. They are unobservant, lacking in the basic preparation by finding out about their enemies and they are verbally caustic to their fated females.

With all that said, I will be starting audiobook 5 in a few minutes because I have to make sure Gryphon is alright. After all, being trapped and tortured by Hades every day for 3 months has to be terrible on his psyche. I want to see who saves him, though I suspect she has been on the run with Orpheus and Skylar this whole time (*Cough Maela).

Tempted (Eternal Guardians #3) by Elisabeth Naughton

Tempted (Eternal Guardians #3) by Elisabeth NaughtonSeries: Eternal Guardians #3
on September 6th, 2011
Pages: 418 pages
AmazonNarrator: Elizabeth Wiley
DEMETRIUS—He’s the hulking, brooding warrior his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length.

Isadora is missing. The words pound through his head like a frantic drumbeat. For her own protection, Demetrius did all he could to avoid the fragile princess, his soul mate. And now she’s gone—kidnapped. To get her back, he’ll have to go to the black place in his soul he’s always shunned.

As daemons ravage the human realm and his loyalty to the Guardians is put to the ultimate test, Demetrius realizes that Isadora is stronger than anyone thought. And finally letting her into his heart may be the only way to save them both.
four-stars

This third book featured the “mean” guardian Demetrius, the one who relished every opportunity to torment Princess Isadora for reasons unbeknownst to all. In fact, his disrespect was so appalling in the last book when the King had ordered him to marry Isadora that he said he would rather be put to death.

After Isadora went missing with her hand maiden right before her binding ceremony to Zander, the guardians began looking for her. Demetrius was able to find her and rescue her from his mother, but not really since his mother banished them to the island of Pandora. Demetrius’ mother was hoping to find a way to get her son and Isadora to become involved so they can have a baby. She would use this infant and it’s power to reclaim her rightful place as an Argolean ruler.
I am really intrigued with this series because of it’s potential, not the execution. In fact, this story has more holes than the last one.

My 2.5 Major Issues:
1) Hera’s curse: Theron hated female humans—thus his mate Casey was a human. Zander—well, I don’t exact understand why Callia was his mate as I don’t know what he hated about her. But I know he hated an action that he thought she did. Demetrius hated pathetic, weaklings, thus why he seemed to hate Isadora.
But this novel implied that Demetrius was aware that Isadora was probably his mate for a really long time. So why did he continue to treat her so reprehensibly? He went out of his way to terrorize her, yet he has a shrine in his place. I don’t get it. If he suspected she was his “curse”, isn’t it inevitable that they will fall in love anyway? Also, why did it take so long for their feelings to kick it because Theron and Zander seemed attracted to their mates from the beginning?

2) Background check: I don’t know about being an Argonaut, but my job performs background and reference checks before an offer of employment is extended. How is it that no one knew anything about Demetrius’ lineage before they appointed him one of a handful of eternal guardians to protect humans and Argolean’s from the Daemons? In fact, they didn’t know he was part witch, only that he was of Jason’s line. How is it that Theron didn’t even know where Demetrius lived, when this is the guy whom you trust to save the world with you?

Minor Issue) Their government set up reminds me of the power struggle that ancient Rome had with the dictators always fighting with the Senate for control. The political scheming etc. Why didn’t Lucian face some kind of backlash for remaining quiet about his son’s involvement with Callia’s son and the deal with Atlanta. I need more answers and better answers. I am not getting them so far but I am not frustrated yet. I am still open.

Ultimately, I am giving this book a four because it makes me want to keep going and neglect the other books that I planned to read because I like Gryphon and Orpheus. So despite the issues, I am still invested in the story, that’s why I bumped it up from a 3.5star to 4-stars

Review: Entwined (Eternal Guardians #2) by Elisabeth Naughton

Review: Entwined (Eternal Guardians #2) by Elisabeth NaughtonSeries: Eternal Guardians #2
on July 27th, 2010
Pages: 320 pages
AmazonNarrator: Elizabeth Wiley
ZANDER—The most feared of all the Eternal Guardians. It’s rumored he can’t be killed, and he always fights like he has nothing to lose. But as a descendant of the famed hero Achilles, he’s got to have a vulnerability… somewhere.

Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are needed to protect both their own realm and the humans’. Zander can’t afford to think about what might have been with the bewitching physician he once regarded as his soul mate. But with eternity stretching before him, he also can’t fathom spending his life without the one woman who makes him feel most alive. Perhaps he’s found his weakness, after all…
three-half-stars

I kind of like this one but there is still something that doesn’t work for me.
I am used to brotherhoods/warriors/alpha males who are protective of their females, who want to feed them, take care of them etc.
All the males treat the women so callously and that always gives me a pause.
Zander and Callia were alluded in the last book as being true mates, so in this book, we got to find out what drove these lovers apart for the last 10 years.
Again, it seems like everyone is a pawn in both the King’s game and in Atlanta’s game. I am really coming to despise this King who seems to ask everyone to sacrifice in a way he hasn’t.

I also feel bad for Queen-elect Isadora, who has lost another fiancée to another previously unknown half sister. That poor chick has crappy luck.

I want to read the next book because it’s Isadora’s but I can’t say that I am enjoying the males. In fact, I am kind of team Atlanta right now.

Review: Marked (Eternal Guardians, #1) by Elisabeth Naughton

Review: Marked (Eternal Guardians, #1) by Elisabeth NaughtonSeries: Eternal Guardians #1
on April 23rd, 2010
Pages: 321 pages
AmazonNarrator: Elizabeth Wiley
THERON - Dark haired, duty bound and deceptively deadly. He's the leader of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that defends the immortal realm from threats of the Underworld.

From the moment he walked into the club, Casey knew this guy was different. Men like that just didn't exist in real life--silky shoulder-length hair, chest impossibly broad, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. He was looking for something. Her.

She was the one. She had the mark. Casey had to die so his kind could live, and it was Theron's duty to bring her in. But even as a 200-year-old descendant of Hercules, he wasn't strong enough to resist the pull in her fathomless eyes, to tear himself away from the heat of her body.

As war with the Underworld nears, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
three-half-stars

Acacia “Casey” Simopolous was working at a strip club to pay down the mountain of hospital bills that resulted from her grandmother’s bout with cancer. In fact, she was a waitress at night and during the day she managed the bookstore she inherited from her grandmother.
One evening, Casey rescued an man who was hurt outside the club, and thus began her introduction to Theron, an Argonaut and the leader of the Eternal guardians. Theron had followed his fiancée, Princess Isadora of the Argolea, to the club when he was attacked by demons. While he got Isadora to safety, he was too hurt to teleport to their realm. Casey took Theron home and nursed him to health. During an intimate moment, Theron noticed a “tattoo” on Casey’s lower back which identified her as otherworldly, but Casey was unaware of her heritage. Further investigation revealed that Casey was the human half-sister of Theron’s fiancée Isadora, and they were part of a prophecy where the two halves would reunite but the stronger would survive.
Both Casey and Isadora were weakening every day, and Theron needed to unite them so that Isadora, the Argolean princess, could survive as she was Ling Leonidas’ only heir, thus the only one who could continue the royal line.

Theron was caught between a rock and a hard place because he was engaged to marry the princess and become the new king, but he found himself in love with the half breed sister whose life was needed in order to make the princess whole again. The future of the race depended on Theron’s adherence to his duty even if he had to give up the only woman he will ever love.

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. It has great potential as a book one of the series as the writing was pretty fast paced. Constant action and an interesting mix of mythology made the novel interesting. I really liked Theron, but I liked the sister Isadora more than I liked Casey. I didn’t want Theron and Isadora together, but I liked Isadora’s inner fortitude. Both sisters obviously had the capacity for self-sacrifice and get love, so that was really cool. I never quite understood King Leonidas and his fascination with humans when he didn’t really care about humans either. I also had a hard time with “Eternal guardians” who were more human acting, eating sandwiches and wearing jeans. But there was a clear sense of duty and what was right, and the guardians strived to do their duty. How they could spend time on earth fighting demons but be clueless about Misos, half breeds, was beyond me.

I actually enjoyed Hades, who was kind of a villain, and his wife Persephone. They brought a special kind of mischief to the table and it was entertaining. I also enjoyed having a woman, Atalanta, be the villain because of the discrimination she suffered. I felt her pain, though her means of exacting retribution was too extreme. I look forward to her next plan to slaughter the Argoleans. I am hoping book 2 will fill in some more background and tell us more about Isadora’s deal with Hades and Persephone.